UthMpact - Youth Making An Impact

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Drug Prevention Resource Center D/B/A InnerAct Alliance
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

InnerAct Alliance's mission is to increase community awareness, through prevention and education, of the dangers associated with the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

InnerAct Alliance, formerly the Drug Prevention Resource Center, is a nonprofit agency established in 1985 to increase community awareness, through prevention and education, of the dangers associated with the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Our focus and mission is to provide innovative substance abuse prevention education programs in Hardee, Highlands, and Polk counties in Central Florida. InnerAct Alliance serves as the fiscal agent for two new coalition initiatives: StandUP Polk (adult-based) and UthMpact (youth-based). We are extremely proud to submit this contest entry on behalf of UthMpact, the new youth initiative working to reduce and prevent the underage use and sale of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.

The UthMpact coalition was founded in 2006, and works in collaboration with Stand UP Polk to encourage a Drug-Free Polk. UthMpact is run strictly by and for teens. UthMpact messages focus on positive reinforcement that tobacco is definitely not cool and emphasis is placed on promoting social norms that indicate that 88% of kids in our county do not smoke.

UthMpact members are on the go advocating for the cause they believe in! Teen members of the UthMpact coalition now include over 50 active members representing middle schools and high schools throughout Polk County. They have taken part in several leadership training sessions designed to promote team building and develop leadership skills.

This energetic group of teen leaders is actively developing and implementing a comprehensive marketing and education campaign, which includes unique tobacco free teen events, eye-catching viral campaigns, and an exciting new interactive website designed to provide their peer group with information and incentives to help educate and encourage teens to join the effort.

To encourage young people to learn about the risks involved with tobacco, the group set up a unique display at a recent Polk County Vocational Showcase that featured the UthMpact Lounge, a portable room complete with colorful inflatable furniture that welcomed students to sit and talk about tobacco and the dangers involved with its use. To promote the event and encourage youth to become involved in UthMpact, the teens utilized the Microsoft Office Suite software that we purchased through Tech Soup to create promotional posters and tobacco information flyers to appeal to this young age group.

One reason sited by teens as to why they smoke or drink, or are tempted to, is because there are not enough drug-free activities for them. With this in mind, StandUP Polk and UthMpact planned back-to-school Splash Back pool and dance parties in several Polk County cities to incorporate fun for teens, while educating them on substance abuse and encouraging them to join UthMpact.

Last September, UthMpact hosted a Club Nite at the Winter Haven Chain of Lakes Complex. Teens danced to the tunes of a live DJ and enjoyed a dazzling laser light show, pizza and refreshments. Visual Basic software and Windows Media Player were used to create and display spotlight messages on and above the dance floor, which the kids loved. Colorful posters, tobacco prevention information, and trendy T-Shirts with an anti-tobacco message were designed using Microsoft Office Suite software. Everyone had a great time, and plans are being made for the next event very soon.

To celebrate Kick Butts Day, the national day of awareness to empower youth to speak up and take action against tobacco use, the UthMpact group designed and executed a "Tobacco Is A Beast!" viral campaign. Fun e-mails depicting animals to illustrate the foolishness of using tobacco were sent out on March 25th. The viral campaign’s eye-catching graphics and message were designed using specialized graphics software and Microsoft Outlook and Internet Explorer were used to distribute the mass e-mail to UthMpact and Coalition group members. An E-Newsletter was also designed by the teens using Microsoft Office applications and distributed via e-mail just prior to Kick Butts Day.Excitement and creativity were flowing as UthMpact teens wrote, starred in, and produced entertaining videos to air on YouTube to promote UthMpact and encourage teens to join the effort. The group performed skits and game show segments with humorous tobacco themes, videotaped and edited the footage using Movie Maker Editing Software. Feedback from youth on the YouTube segments has been incredibly encouraging!

Our offices have been a buzz of activity with UthMpact team members completing plans to launch their exciting new interactive web site at www.uthmpact.com. The teens have been working with local brand marketing company, Madden Corporate Services, and Cipher Integrations, Inc., to learn aspects of web site production using specialized marketing programs and web design software. Future plans including designing and creating educational games for the web site.

We are extremely proud that the new UthMpact web site has already been recognized for Interactive Media excellence! Two awards were presented to UthMpact at the local Addy Awards on Friday, February 20, 2009 by the Imperial Polk Advertising Federation: The Benny Award was won in the category of Interactive Media and The Gold Addy was won in the category of Interactive Media for Web Site/Consumer HTML. Microsoft programs have enhanced almost every aspect of our nonprofit organization and it is the main computer software used for our agency’s contracts, communications, payments, scheduling, and grant requirements. Computer applications and software, especially Microsoft Office Suite, have been invaluable in helping UthMpact reach teens via today’s essential communication technologies.

Microsoft applications have played an integral part in creating UthMpact’s unique marketing and substance abuse prevention education campaign to reach youth peers. The software’s ease of use and accessibility has enabled the teens to creatively and effectively promote their youth-oriented teen events, launch a successful Kick Butts virtual campaign, design trendy T-shirts and promotional incentives, produce entertaining YouTube video messages, and create an award winning web site that will be used to fight substance abuse. All of these key elements have contributed to the popularity and growth of the UthMpact coalition in the Polk County area.

Overall the future looks bright for UthMpact. Our plans include establishing a permanent home base for UthMpact in a local storefront or building. We envision a place where teens can socialize in a coffeehouse-type atmosphere, with wi-fi internet access, laptop computers with educational substance abuse information at their fingertips, a flat screen television, music, and regular drug-free teen events featuring live entertainment and refreshments.

Submission Category
Transformations to Maximize Impact