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Knoxville, TN

The Metropolitan Drug Commission

The Metropolitan Drug Commission (MDC), which is dedicated to the prevention of substance abuse in Knoxville, TN, coordinates and collaborates with numerous organizations and agencies to improve the effectiveness of their comprehensive community strategy to reduce youth substance abuse. The Too Smart To Start team in Knoxville implements a variety of activities and events as well as a mass media campaign to reach out to 9- to 13-year-olds, their parents, and the community.

The team delivers programs to youth in elementary and middle school classrooms to increase their knowledge of the harms of underage alcohol use. Trainings for middle school teachers, guidance counselors, and administrators also are offered during in-service days as a way to increase their awareness of the harms of underage alcohol use and the importance of their involvement in encouraging parent/child communication at home. To increase interaction between 9- to 13-year-olds and their parents, the team encourages parents and youth to participate in a number of fun and educational take-home activities that are returned to the teachers as homework assignments, with a parent’s signature to ensure parental involvement. In addition, the team invites a small number of at-risk youth to participate in an annual summer camp, where they learn about the harms of underage alcohol use through a combination of arts instruction with prevention programming, using MDC’s underage drinking drama Menace. Youth and their parents also are encouraged to participate in the take-home activities, supporting what they learn during the day at camp.

Through a mass media campaign, 9- to 13-year-olds, their parents, and the Knoxville community are exposed to messages about the harms of underage alcohol use, the importance of conversations between parents and their children, and ways to increase public disapproval of underage drinking. Public service announcements, newspaper articles, newsletters, magazines, and billboards are used to accomplish this goal. Additionally, through a partnership with MDC’s NBC affiliate, WBIR, monthly news stories are aired on underage drinking and biannual phone polls are conducted to measure the effectiveness of the overall social marketing campaign. The team also disseminates messages and materials about Too Smart To Start and the harms of underage alcohol use to the faith community for faith leaders to use and distribute to their congregations and to house in their resource libraries. An educational component that addresses the perceptions of underage drinking and the importance of conversations also is offered as a program that could be delivered during Bible studies or parenting classes.

Knoxville Program Photo

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