National Teen 'Influence Project', White House Drug Czar Come to Portland


Jun 08, 2010, 17:30 ET from White House Office of National Drug Control Policy

PORTLAND, Ore., June 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Portland teens are part of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy's (ONDCP) new, nationwide campaign encouraging teens to engage in a conversation about the positive and negative pressures that influence their decisions.  The Influence Project is part of a new emphasis on teens who are central to the anti-drug teen brand, Above the Influence. This emphasis includes hearing directly from teens about what they do to resist drug use and stay "above" negative influences.

The Above the Influence brand has been refreshed to include broadened messaging to focus on substances most abused by teens, and delivers both broad prevention messaging at the national level and more targeted efforts at the local community level.  As part of the new localized approach, Portland teens participated in The Influence Project, a series of activities that allowed them to express themselves with the Above the Influence brand. Activities include designing the next ATI advertising, to registering their input around influences on a map of the country,, so they can see what teens around the country are experiencing. The three communities with the highest number of entries on the "Influence Map" will receive a special promotional event from the Above the Influence team in their hometown.  The Influence Project officially kicked off yesterday in the Bronx, NY and travels to Milwaukee next week. Twenty other markets are slated for activities in the Fall of 2010.

Teens from the Portland community revealed that influences in media and their immediate social and physical environment –ranging from crime to others' use of drugs and alcohol can negatively impact their ability to make healthy decisions about resisting pressure to use drugs. "Teens have always been exposed to negative influences through media or friends, but now they are getting those messages in a multitude of ways, including online with social networking sites," said Gil Kerlikowske, ONDCP Director.  "Hearing from teens directly about what influences they need to resist, and how, helps us better focus on prevention efforts and work with local communities to keep our youth drug-free."

"We are thrilled that The Influence Project has come to Portland to hear directly from teens about what pressures they face, what motivates them, and ultimately what keeps them from making unhealthy decisions," said Emily Moser, Director of Parenting Programs, Oregon Partnership – a statewide non-profit organization specializing in drug and alcohol awareness and prevention – whose teens participated in the Above the Influence activities. "The project is unique because teens are challenged to think more critically about what influences their decision-making and why they make certain choices around using."

Teens from the Boys and Girls Club of Portland Metropolitan area also participated in pilot activities to express their perspectives about influence.  "Many of our teens involved in The Influence Project talked about how this experience inspired them to think about influence in a way they might not have before," said Joe Marziello, Chief Executive Officer, Boys & Girls Club of Portland Metropolitan area. "We know that community engagement is a positive outlet for them and helps teens stay away from drugs."

Among teens in the U.S., recent studies indicate that overall illicit drug use rates are flat following steady declines between 2002 and 2008. But what's troubling about these studies is that more teens are saying they see less risk in using drugs, including marijuana, heroin, and LSD once or twice a week. Further, the abuse of prescription drugs is an increasing problem, across age groups and in every demographic.  Data from the latest Monitoring the Future Survey, indicates that 7 of the top 10 drugs abused by 12th graders are prescription drugs.

For the past five years, since its creation, teens have proudly identified themselves as Above the Influence.  They have embraced the brand, recreating commercials and using the logo in local artwork and on popular social networking sites.  New TV ads are running on the ABC Family Network, MTV, VHI, and others across the country, as well as in teen-focused magazines such as Seventeen, Transworld, Rise, and others, in cinemas and online on Hulu, ChaCha, Pandora, and others.  Other advertising will run in the three pilot markets. The new direction aims to balance broad prevention messaging at the national level with more targeted efforts at the local community level. The new advertising was created in collaboration with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, with pro bono advertising provided by three advertising agencies: Draftfcb (Ordinary Day), Vigilante (Diner), and McGarry Bowen (Stage Hands).  

Since its inception in 1998, the ONDCP's National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign has conducted outreach to millions of parents, teens, and communities to prevent and reduce teen drug use.  Counting on an unprecedented blend of public and private partnerships, non-profit community service organizations, volunteerism, and youth-to-youth communications, the Campaign is designed to reach Americans of diverse backgrounds with effective anti-drug messages.

SOURCE White House Office of National Drug Control Policy