“We have worked with Heather Daly, and Courageous Hearts for several years now developing an anti-tobacco campaign which has produced very positive results. California has a low smoking compared to other States, but the smoking rate in LAUSD schools is significantly less than California’s. This success is due to a sustained student led health campaign. LA Unified is the second largest school district in the nation. Our campaign covers 44 high schools and 12 middle schools. We run cessation sessions each semester in these schools, so one issue is just managing such a large campaign. There are organizational politics and personality issues to deal with, and Heather has been a problem solver and has been instrumental in rolling out a uniform, high caliber program. The preparation of the curriculum, the training and selection of staff, and the oversight of the execution of these classes is critical to the core success of our mission, and Heather has been an invaluable ally in developing and maintaining the quality of this large effort.
Heather has helped adapt the State-required curriculum to our needs, because we are a majority-minority district almost entirely made up of high risk and lower socio-economic students. She has overseen and carried out the training of our cession group facilitators – easily the most demanding and sensitive personnel requirement of this campaign. She has brought in academic and private sector partners to develop special programs to develop mindfulness in youth, and to help our students resist addictive behaviors. She has spearheaded the effort to develop video documentation of the campaign, and to produce videos designed to supplement our cessation classes by asking the big questions about tobacco, marijuana, and drugs. Her sensitivity to our students, her dedicated and capable team, and her professional contacts have been a terrific asset.
Many campaigns seek to prevent smoking by lecturing students on how bad cigarettes are. In my opinion these campaigns are largely futile. Students smoke primarily because of stress: a factor of their stage in life, their physiological development, and pressures they face. Our approach is to help students deal with those issues, and with their natural tendency to experiment and engage in risky behavior. Heather has the exact academic background to deal with these issues, and she has fortified our curriculum and program with the hard science our students have requested about the chemistry of addiction. Our students want hard facts as well as understanding, and Heather has helped develop a campaign that delivers both. Together we have been effective. Our schools can boast of lower smoking rates, lower rates of drug experimentation than the State average. Our cessation groups get smokers to quit. We survey our students and for two years the 120-day post cession results show a 100% quit rate. I cannot promise that those numbers hold beyond the survey window, but they show an impressive outcome. Heather is a valued member of the team that has helped make it happen.”
-Carey Peck, LAUSD Grant Administrator