HUMANA TEENS AGAINST TOBACCO USE VOLUNTEERS

Daily Point of Light # 2035 Nov 21, 2001

In April of 1997, the Vice Chairman of Humana, along with other community leaders attended the President’s Summit for America’s Future led by General Colin Powell. They were all asked to take a stand and make a difference in the lives of our country’s youth. Knowing Humana’s deep commitment to the communities they serve, Mr. David Jones made a commitment of two million dollars on behalf of the Humana Foundation and Humana Associates to fight teen smoking.

Volunteers at Humana are working hard to stop youth from smoking. With staggering statistics like that fact that 3,000 children start smoking each day, and the fact that tobacco use kills more people each year that AIDS, these volunteers work hard to make a difference. A team of 20 Humana employee volunteers has and continues to teach the Teens Against Tobacco Use (TATU) program to teens in the Jefferson County Public School System. Since 1998, more than 900 teens have been reached with the message to stop smoking.

Through a partnership with the American Lung Association (ALA) and the Jefferson County Public School System, a team of local Humana employee volunteers has taken the ALA’s TATU program to youth in the area. The volunteers have empowered teenagers to form TATU clubs at the various high schools. Now, almost every one of the 17 public high schools have an active TATU group that others can join to help fight tobacco use.

TATU is a peer-mentoring, anti-tobacco use program that seeks committed volunteers to teach teen the dangers of tobacco use. They use creative, hands-on activities. The teenagers, in turn, use the skills they have learned to reach younger students. Since TATU was launched in Louisville two years ago, more than 12,000 Jefferson County high school, elementary, and middle school students have participated in the TATU program. The volunteers are consistent and committed to the program. Together, Humana and the ALA have dedicated more than 5,000 hours teaching and mentoring the TATU teens. In addition, they help the teens with their presentations and skits as they mentor their younger peers in the third through fifth grade about the dangers of tobacco use.

The volunteers have also been instrumental in developing strategies on program implementation, volunteer recruitment, and innovations to motivate teens to stay active in the program. Humana has agreed to provide 50,000 volunteer hours from employees to help train the teens, answer questions, and to contact school officials, among other things. The idea behind TATU is younger children are more likely to take an anti-smoking message to heart if it is presented by teenagers they look up to as opposed to adults. It is not set up to diminish the role of adults, but the concept is that older peers have a unique role in presenting certain information to younger students.

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