Education Alliance

Project CONNECT®

An Adolescent Nicotine Cessation Program

Project CONNECT®, a nicotine cessation and reduction program, is specifically designed to motivate participants to make positive choices, including changing their nicotine use, attitudes, and behaviors.

  • Audience: Project CONNECT® is for any young person who uses nicotine products and would like to learn skills and strategies for change. It can also be used as a mandatory program for students who have violated a nicotine policy.
  • Number of participants: 5 minimum | 12 maximum | Ideal size of 8
  • Number of sessions: Eight weekly sessions
  • Time required: recommended 45-60 minute sessions

Framework:

Project CONNECT® was developed through the review of numerous adolescent nicotine cessation programs, research on behavior change theory and positive youth development approaches, and feedback from adolescent cessation group facilitators and participants.

Maximum involvement of the participants is achieved by integrating an array of teaching techniques. These techniques include open discussion, demonstrations, role plays, short lectures, audiovisual presentations, and hands-on skill-building activities, all of which can be adapted to diverse populations. Group facilitators choose activities that best suit the needs of their respective groups. Creativity and diversity in implementation are achieved by integrating real-life or group-specific experiences, questions, or concerns into the established lesson plans.

Goals:

Project CONNECT® helps participants plan, prepare, and develop skills that help them find their own success through the quitting process. The program is a supportive service designed to empower students and is geared to:

  • Strengthen participants’ motivation to quit nicotine use and remain nicotine-free.
  • Identify barriers to quitting nicotine use and remaining nicotine-free.
  • Bolster self-efficacy for dealing with obstacles.
  • Develop personalized plans for success.
  • Encourage evaluation of participants’ current behaviors.
  • Introduce the decision balancing process.
  • Identify and promote positive, healthy lifestyle choices.
  • Assist with identifying and utilizing support systems.
  • Identify and assist with problem solving.
  • Identify and promote resiliency factors.

Curriculum:

The Project CONNECT program utilizes prevention and intervention models to address risky behaviors. One of the tools used is the Prochaska and DiClemente’s Stages-of-Change Model. This model identifies the stage each participant is in upon entering the program, assesses the participant’s readiness to change and helps the participant move along the continuum with support and encouragement.

As the program is intended to be sensitive to each participant’s readiness to change, participants are encouraged to develop their own personalized plans that define their specific goals, challenges, and achievements throughout the course of the program. This personalization allows each participant to define success in his/her own unique way and take ownership of individual progress. In this way, participants will CONNECT with SUCCESS.

There are 8 sessions in the curriculum:

  1. Making the Connection - Activities and assessments will increase participants’ awareness of their personal nicotine use, assist with information gathering and provide a baseline for measuring learning outcomes, attitude, and behavior changes throughout the program.
  2. The Health Connection – Participants focus on the health consequences related to nicotine use and the benefits associated with quitting.
  3. The Addiction Connection - Participants develop a deeper awareness of their own nicotine use attitudes and behaviors. The session will delve into the concept of addiction and where participants fit along this continuum.
  4. Connection with Change - Participants identify the changes they have made, are introduced to variety of quitting methods, and learn to identify triggers that may hinder their progress, including boredom.
  5. Connect with Healthy Choices – Participants learn about the connection between stress and nicotine use and examine the concept of stress management. Recovery symptoms that they may experience when they make changes to their use of nicotine are discussed. Finally, participants learn to identify assets that make them more stress resistant, including healthy eating and physical activity.
  6. The Preparation Connection – With an emphasis on the importance of planning and preparation, participants examine the role effective communication plays in the decision to change one’s nicotine use. Participants identify difficult situations, effective problem-solving techniques, and the importance of identifying and utilizing a support network throughout the quitting process.
  7. The Reflection Connection – Participants review their experiences throughout the program and how their attitudes, beliefs and goals regarding their nicotine use may have changed. This session will introduce the concept of resilience and help participants plan and ultimately overcome any challenges or roadblocks that may be in their future.
  8. Keeping the Connection Participants review the topics discussed throughout the program and look back at where they were when they began the program, where they are now and where they would like to be in the future. Participants identify changes they have made throughout the course of the program, celebrate individual and group successes, and prepare for the challenges that may lie ahead.

Click here for a Sample Lesson Plan

Outcomes

Caron’s Education Department team consistently monitors and evaluates Project CONNECT®, including assessing participant behavior change, knowledge gained, and overall satisfaction. The information we gather, along with best practices, is used to plan, design, and implement sustainable services and future programs. We understand the importance of sharing the outcomes of our program with key stakeholders. Check out the Teen Nicotine Cessation/Reduction Program evaluation results from 2020.

Program Feedback

Feedback From Program Participants

“I am so proud of myself for quitting. This class was most definitely very helpful.”

“Project CONNECT taught me a lot. I learned new strategies to quit, health problems, long-term effects. I liked everything about the program. I recommend it to anyone that needs help.”

“I finally quit and I am not going to start ever again.”

“This class made me change my mind about cigarettes and pushed me to really quit and I never thought I’d try to quit.”

“I think I can speak for the entire class in saying how much we appreciate your talking to us with respect. We never felt talked down to when you were sharing information.”

“I think this program could change someone’s life.”

Feedback from Professionals

"As a school nurse, I have spent a bit of time trying to assist those who wish to quit smoking. The program you bring to our school is the best. There is always a positive response from the students, and many have quit over the years because of this. Getting a positive response from high school students is difficult, but that is all I ever get from the students regarding this program." School Nurse/Public High School

“We have offered the students three sessions of the Project CONNECT program this year. All have been full with a waiting list. The program is very professionally presented, provides the students with a lot of relevant and useful information regarding nicotine cessation. The students are aware of the program and look forward to participating in it. The program is thought highly of and supported by our administration.” Guidance Counselor, Public High School

“Our school loves the cessation program that you have offered and facilitated this school year. The students ask me all year to get into your groups. For at-risk adolescents, this is a true marker of effectiveness because, for the most part, our students avoid groups and anything that looks or resembles counseling. Your groups are so popular and in demand because you have a true feel for and knack for reaching our kids. The Project CONNECT® curriculum is very good in that it holds their interest and captures the essence of adolescent thinking and experiences.” School Adjustment Counselor, Alternative High School Program

“For many, many years our school has had a disciplinary warning in place with regard to the use and/or possession of tobacco products. And, for as many years, the students who have been caught or who have a desire to quit have complained to the school administrators that, “You don't offer us any ways to quit.” When we were fortunate enough to have Project Connect offered to our school, the word got out and the feedback was so positive. The students who participated were loyal to the meetings and seldom ever missed an evening session. This regular attendance for these overscheduled boarding school students speaks volumes to the program content, as well as to the facilitator and her ability to connect with these kids.” --Director of Health Services/Boarding School

Project CONNECT® is a wonderful opportunity to enhance current health and safety efforts for students at your school. The following are some frequently asked questions that can help you understand how Project CONNECT® could be implemented in your school.

When is the group offered?

Depending on your needs, group sessions could be held during lunches, after school, or on a rotating basis during school/site hours so students do not miss the same class more than once.

How are the students recruited?

Recruitment methods may include setting up an information table in a common area or speaking about the program in a classroom or group setting. Staff and administrative referrals are also an ideal way to get students involved in the program.

Who will run the sessions?

A Project CONNECT® facilitator trained to implement the program curriculum will lead the sessions.

Who will provide materials?

The program facilitator will supply all program materials/resources.

What is recommended for follow-up?

Booster sessions are recommended 1 month and 3 months after completion of the program.

What topics does the group cover?

Topics addressed in this program include the cycle of addiction, the effects of nicotine, quitting methods, recovery symptoms, identification of nicotine use triggers, stress management techniques, refusal skills, decision-making and problem-solving skills and healthy lifestyle choices.

The Project CONNECT® Facilitator Training is highly interactive, engaging, and informative. The one-day Project CONNECT® Facilitator Training plays an important role in enhancing the confidence level and skill sets of individuals responsible for implementing the Project CONNECT® program in their middle school, high school, or agency.

Participants will learn about:

  • Nicotine Products and Use Trends
  • Effective Implementation of the Project CONNECT® Curriculum
  • Group Facilitation Skills
  • Motivational Interviewing to Elicit Change
  • Implementing the CONNECT 5 Digital Learning Platform

The trainings can be held virtually, on-site, or through training workshops sponsored by Caron Treatment Centers. To learn more:

To begin implementing this program, you can click to register here.

In addition to Project CONNECT®, these programs are also available to help students have the insight and power to make wise decisions regarding nicotine use.

  • CLEAR Facts Prevention Education: During this 45 minute presentation, students will learn about the health impact of using nicotine and marijuana and the addictive properties of these substances by listening to facts, expressing knowledge of consequences, looking at visuals and participating in hands-on activities to reinforce relevant concepts.
  • Brain Drain Prevention Education Program: This interactive, 45 to 60-minute presentation for fifth-eight grade students provides current, research-based information on various aspects of drug abuse and addiction. During the presentation, participants learn about neurobiology—the brain’s parts, how they work, and how they communicate with the rest of the body—and how drugs of abuse affect it.
  • Role Models for Change Peer Nicotine Prevention: A two-part peer prevention education program, Role Models for Change Academy utilizes mentorship, education, and peer-to-peer support training to highlight the consequences of nicotine use (including vaping) by youth. Peer leaders are given the skills to deliver interactive classroom nicotine prevention programs to middle or high school students within a school district or youth-serving agency.
  • Virtually CONNECTed Cessation Intervention: Do you know a teen in need of support to quit their use of vaping or other nicotine products? Our long-running Project CONNECT® support group programming has been adapted so students can connect with a facilitator and other teens virtually to gain skills and support for a healthier life. In this 6-session group, students will examine their patterns of nicotine use, learn the benefits of making a change, develop strategies to address their triggers, and receive encouragement to reach their personal goals. Middle and High School students, ages 13- 18, from across the country are welcomed. To register for this support group click here.
  • VIEWS - Vaping Intervention, Education & Wellness for Students (VIEWS) This diversion program that helps youth avoid, reduce, or quit the use of vaping products and make responsible and healthy decisions. It can be used as an alternative to school suspension. Participants engage in guided discussions, activities, roleplaying and repeated skill practice during three sessions.
  • CONNECT 5: Find the NicoTEEN - Nicotine Cessation Program - This nicotine reduction and cessation digital experience is designed to help youth make a positive impact on their health. This course motivates youth towards change and assists them in developing a personalized plan for success that is unique to their needs and situation.
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Project CONNECT - Student Program

Caron’s Project Connect program is a 6–8-week program for adolescents to help them reduce or quit their use of nicotine.

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