Considered_ co-founder Steven Johnson recently had a fascinating conversation with Diane Fenner, Head of Health and Education Partnerships at Cambridgeshire PSHE Service about a youth smoking intervention that she has recently launched. Here he shares his thoughts on the campaign:

Kickash is a campaign-cum-service that has not only been designed and delivered by young people in a school setting. It’s an excellent example of the Considered_ approach and exemplifies the 5 principles of engage, motivate, empower, trust and ownership.

It revolves around a core group of 30 mentors (aged 15+) in each school. Splitting into 3 working groups to cover communications, trading standards and cessation, this group is responsible for delivering a wide range of interventions to year 8 students in the school’s affiliated primary schools.

The communications team has developed the brand and promotional campaign and are responsible for awareness raising. The enforcement team has been working with trading standards on test purchasing exercises and is responsible for under-age sales and illicit tobacco. The cessation team has been trained to level 1 and is actively involved in referring young people into service. Kickash is currently active in 5 schools across the county and Diane ultimately aims to increase this number to 10.

It was developed and prototyped through what she calls a ‘pathfinder? school’—a school that was already engaged and that had a mentoring scheme already in place. Through co-design sessions, groups of year 8 students developed a ‘job description’ for their ideal smoking cessation mentor. This specification was then used as the basis for the recruitment of the core group of 15-year-olds from the secondary setting.

In line with the Considered_ approach, students were engaged within the context of their own values. Diane explained that recruitment posed no problems as students drew a passion for the issue from personal experience: a family member / someone they know dying from a smoking-related illness.

Building on this personal drive, Diane developed extrinsic motivations to facilitate meaningful, ongoing participation. Above and beyond the opportunity to make a difference, the students in question recognised the value of being involved in terms of their academic performance, personal development and future career.

The initial process evaluation undertaken by Diane has revealed a wide range of academic and personal benefits for the mentors who have taken part, including increased confidence, improved academic performance and greater self-esteem. Furthermore, she is currently working to have participation in the programme accredited by an independent body to bolster the positive impact on the mentors academic record.

The mentors have been empowered through a range of training sessions related to tobacco control approaches in general and specific to their own individual working groups. They also have access to specific skills and guidance such as a graphic designer and local authority press officer to further develop their skills. And throughout the entire process the mentors have a ‘reference group’ on hand, comprised of a wide range of stakeholders (including senior level schools representatives, PCT, trading standards and the Stop Smoking Service) to guide activity and bring further capacity.

Trust has been established through the open, transparent and highly structured way in which the programme has been developed. Diane has allowed the group considerable autonomy, but within a framework that is strong and supportive enough to manage risk.

As a result, ownership has been transferred—the young people are successfully managing and running their own intervention.

I’m not sure on how and to what extent the project is being funded and therefore how sustainable the model is from an economic perspective, but in many respects, Kick Ash embodies the Considered_ approach perfectly. I look forward to the evaluation!