Education Alliance

Project CONNECT®

An Adolescent Nicotine Cessation Program

Highlights of the Project CONNECT®

Project CONNECT® is a nicotine cessation and reduction program developed specifically for adolescents. Project CONNECT® was developed through the review of numerous adolescent tobacco cessation programs, research on behavior change theory and positive youth development approaches and by utilizing prevention and intervention models intended to address other risk behaviors. The development of this program was also guided by feedback from adolescent cessation group facilitators and cessation program participants. It was designed to motivate participants not only to participate in the program but also to ultimately make more 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 some skills and strategies to help her or him change. It can also be used as a mandatory program for students who have violated nicotine policy.
  • Number of participants: 5 minimum | 12 maximum | ideal size of 8
  • Number of sessions: 8 (recommended)
  • Time required: recommended 45- 60 minute sessions
  • Program location: Room that will comfortably accommodate participants and allow for confidentiality.

Caron Treatment Centers began Project CONNECT® in response to feedback from facilitators, students and school personnel regarding the need for adaptive nicotine cessation programs. Since 2001, Caron has provided adolescent nicotine cessation services to schools and youth-serving agencies. Even though these programs were successful in their overall reach, implementation fidelity could not be adapted to meet unique needs. Program developers began with a quantitative and qualitative review of the literature on current effective adolescent smoking cessation programs. They discovered that successful programs deal with the processes of change for individuals in all stages, yet they need to be broad enough to be directed by different facilitators in diverse settings. The vision driving development of Project CONNECT® was creating a program which included an array of helpful options that a skilled facilitator can draw upon, build on, and adapt to the cognitive processes of each participant.

Goals of Project CONNECT®

The main goal of Project CONNECT® is to help participants plan, prepare and develop skills that will help them find their own success through the quitting process. The program utilizes Prochaska and DiClemente’s Stages-of-Change Model and 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.

Participants meet for approximately 45 minutes, once a week for eight weeks, and discuss and work on topics such as the health effects of nicotine use, goal setting, decision making, healthy lifestyle choices, resilience, stress management and social skills. The program increases the participant’s knowledge and awareness of the cycle of addiction and the benefits of quitting. It is a supportive service designed to empower students to make better choices regarding their nicotine use and is geared to:

  • Strengthen participants’ motivation to quit nicotine use and remain nicotine-free.
  • Reinforce skills to help participants quit nicotine use and/or remain nicotine-free.
  • Identify barriers to quitting nicotine use and remain 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.

Program Format

For a curriculum to be effective, it is important that participants be engaged and actively involved in the learning process. To facilitate maximum participant involvement, an array of teaching techniques is utilized including open discussion; demonstrations; role plays; short lectures; audiovisual presentations; and hands-on skill-building activities.

These techniques were developed to be adaptable to diverse populations, and group facilitators are given the opportunity to choose those activities that will best suit the needs of their respective groups. Creativity and diversity in implementation can also be achieved by integrating real-life or group-specific experiences, questions or concerns into the established lesson plans.

As the program is intended to be sensitive to each participant’s readiness to change, Personal Plans for Success will be distributed and 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. Click here to download the Project Connect postcard.

Session 1 introduces participants to the Project CONNECT® program. Activities and assessments in this session 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.

Session 2 of Project CONNECT® will focus on the health consequences related to nicotine use and the benefits associated with quitting.

Session 3 of Project CONNECT® will help 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.

Session 4 of Project CONNECT® focuses on making a change. It will help participants identify the changes they have already made while in the program and introduce them to a variety of quitting methods. This session will help participants to identify those triggers that may hinder their progress, including boredom.

Session 5 of Project CONNECT® focuses on making healthy choices. The connection between stress and nicotine use will be explored, and participants will examine the concept of stress management. It will also expose participants to the recovery symptoms that they may experience when they make changes to their use of nicotine, and help them to recognize those assets that make them more stress resistant, including healthy eating and physical activity.

Session 6 of Project CONNECT® emphasizes the importance of planning and preparation in making a change. It examines the role that effective communication plays in the decision to change one’s nicotine habits. The session assists participants in identifying difficult situations and effective problem-solving techniques. Finally, Session 6 explores the importance of identifying and utilizing a support network throughout the quitting process.

Session 7 will review participants’ experiences throughout the program and how their attitudes, beliefs and goals regarding their nicotine use may have changed since the beginning of the group. This session will introduce the concept of resilience and help participants plan ahead and ultimately overcome any challenges or roadblocks that may be in their future.

Session 8 is the final session of the Project CONNECT® program core curriculum. In this session, participants will 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. Session 8 is intended to identify changes that participants have made throughout the course of the program, to celebrate individual and group successes and to prepare for the challenges that may lie ahead.

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

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.

Program Participant

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

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.

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.

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

The program facilitator will supply all program materials/resources.

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

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.

Results

We understand the importance of sharing best practices with key stakeholders that will contribute to the planning, design, and implementation of more sustainable services and an understanding of how to improve future programs. We consistently monitor and evaluate Project CONNECT® which includes assessing participant behavior change, knowledge gained and overall satisfaction. Check out the Teen Nicotine Cessation/Reduction Program evaluation results from 2020.

Sample Program Activities and Workbook Page

The Project CONNECT® Program curriculum is intended to be implemented once per week over the course of eight weeks. Eight individual lesson plans have been developed that will provide objectives, activities and discussion questions. We have included a sample portion of a lesson plan for review.

Project CONNECT® also includes a participant guide or Personal Plan for Success. Because the program is intended to be sensitive to each participant’s readiness to change, the Personal Plan for Success is distributed, and participants are encouraged to develop their own personalized plan that defines their specific goals, challenges and achievements throughout the course of the program. There is a sample page from the Personal Plan for Success included.

Facilitator Training

Facilitator Training for the Project CONNECT® Adolescent Nicotine Cessation and Reduction Program provides prospective facilitators with the skills and confidence they need for implementation. Over the course of a one to two-day workshop, participants learn:

  • Project CONNECT® curriculum basics.
  • Skills for successfully conducting individual program sessions.
  • Information on new nicotine use trends.
  • Practical implementation issues and how to overcome them.

Project CONNECT® Facilitator Training Workshops can be held on-site at schools or agencies. Participants may also attend training workshops at Caron Treatment Centers throughout the year. To learn more, submit an online form or download the Project CONNECT® Facilitator Training brochure. To begin implementing this program, you can click to register here.

In addition to the Project CONNECT® adolescent nicotine cessation program, these also help students have the insight and power to make wise decisions.

  • Prevention Program is a 45-60 minute program that teaches students about the health impact of using nicotine delivery devices such as cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco and electronic products. They also are given information about the addictive properties of nicotine by listening to facts, expressing knowledge of consequences, looking at visuals and participating in hands-on activities to reinforce relevant concepts. For more information, download the Nicotine: The CLEAR Facts brochure, call 800-678-2332 ext. 6117 or submit this contact form.
  • Peer Education Program is based on the understanding that many young people make changes not only based on what they know, but on the opinions and actions of their peers. Peer educators can effectively communicate important health-related messages to their younger peers and can serve as true role models for change. Caron’s The Role Models for Change Academy, is a two-part Peer Prevention Education program utilizing mentorship, education, and peer-to-peer support training to highlight the consequences of nicotine use (including vaping) by youth. For more information, download the Role Models for Change Academy PDF, call 800-678-2332 ext. 6117 or submit this contact form.
  • Virtually CONNECTed 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.

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

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

Program Participant

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Call our Education Alliance at 800-678-2332 ext. 6117.

Call our Education Alliance at 800-678-2332 ext. 6117.