Mobilizing Youth Tobacco Prevention and Treatment Champions in Rural Kentucky Communities

Grants and Contracts Details


Abstract Youth tobacco use, particularly youth e-cigarette use, commonly known as vaping, continues to be of concern across the US and within Kentucky. Nationally, over 3 million youth report current youth risk for dependence. In Kentucky, more than one in four high schoolers currently reports vaping, and there are regional disparities in youth prevalence that indicate higher than average vaping rates in counties served by the Pallottine Foundation of Huntington. Furthermore, disparities in youth prevalence and access to prevention and treatment resources exist in these counties. While e-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among youth, it would be remiss not to mention the higher prevalence rates of both smokeless tobacco (7.9% in Pathways and 8.1% in Mountain regions) and cigarettes during this timeframe (7.2% Pathways and 6.1% in Mountain included regions). As we recognize the overall increase in tobacco use during the pandemic, particularly in the eastern regions of the state, prevention efforts must be adapted to the needs of different student populations. This program aims to educate local school communities to be proactive to combat adolescent initiation and provide support for those already using. Our project seeks to address both of the Foundation’s Focus Areas of Health and Wellness and Capacity Building for Tobacco Prevention and Tobacco Treatment including mitigation strategies to prevent the use of vaping, the prevalent gateway to tobacco use. The overarching goal of our proposed project is to decrease youth susceptibility to tobacco and vaping use through coordinated evidence-informed school- and community-based prevention efforts among individuals living in six of the eight Kentucky counties served by the Pallottine Foundation of Huntington. The program aims to build programmatic capacity to promote the use of best practices and to continue the Community Champion program to support adult- youth partnerships to better serve youth. Our proposal seeks to build on the research-informed approach that finds a connection to a caring adult is a primary protective factor against a range of adolescent risk behaviors, including tobacco use, across youth with diverse racial, ethnic, economic, and geographic backgrounds. To do this, the program aims to not only connect youth with near-peer college mentors but to build youth-adult relationships through capacity building and our intergenerational Community Health Champion model. We will provide innovative and culturally relevant prevention education using a near-peer model in the respective counties through 1) school-based and after-school educational programming delivered by trained college and/or high school students; 2) community outreach initiatives to support parental education and building youth-adult relationships; 3) peer- developed health communication and social media campaigns; and 4) professional development opportunities for adults working with youth. In addition, to build the program’s capacity to provide better services and to support the sustainability of tobacco and vaping prevention and treatment efforts in these often-underserved communities, #iCANendthetrend will recruit, train, and mobilize a cohort of 8 Community Health Champions comprised of adult and youth participants from the Pallottine Foundation counties to help support youth-adult relationships and create a sustainable near-peer partnership with the community. One representative will be selected from each county and then two of the champions will be returning from the 2023-2024 CHC team.
Effective start/end date6/1/245/31/25


  • Pallottine Foundation of Huntington: $49,808.00


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