Above the Influence (ATI) is a successful national campaign created to inspire teens to reject dangerous behaviors by using various methods of media. In this campaign, teens are encouraged to learn the facts about drugs and alcohol use, encouraged to stand up against negative influences in their school (bullying, texting while driving, violence), and practice the tools of resistance. How popular is ATI? In a teen poll, 80% of youth were able to recognize the ATI campaign through face book and in mainstream advertising.
In the eight years since its creation, ATI has partnered with over 100 agencies to compile a toolkit of activities for educators to use on October 17th. Some of these activities include:
- Tag It-Teens identify and tag risky or positive behaviors and take pictures of those tags.
- Be It-Teens create their own slogan after a review of the concept of “brands”. For instance, there is a discussion of how celebrities are known for their positive or negative brands. After the discussion, students are asked to brainstorm their own brand by using short, catchy, and easy to remember phrases (i.e. “Helper of People”).
- Express It-teens can create a short skit, song, or dance to shine the light on influences in our everyday world.
- In the Driver’s Seat-Teens experience a real life driving simulation to show them the dangers of distracted driving.
- Video/Discussion-The adult facilitator helps teens develop resistance skills by using video scenarios and discussion questions.
- Video Project-Teens can choose to create their own ATI video series to share on the ATI face book page with other youth around the world.
Some positives that I really like about this program is that it is a more than just a say “no” campaign. I find that I typically use the old standard “just say no” leftovers during Red Ribbon Week. For instance, I tend to give out ribbons, have kids to sign a pledge, wear red socks, or give them red hots during lunch. However, ATI goes way beyond that by encouraging peers to recognize and process the effects of the negative and positive influences they face everyday through peer-led activities. In addition, teens are able to discuss these influences and create resistance skills that are often missing among our youth today. One word of caution…because this is seen as a “teen” campaign, only students between the ages of 12-17 wear the ATI logo. Adults are discouraged from wearing or displaying the ATI logo as they can diminish the “cool factor” of the campaign.