Friday, March 02, 2012

Oshkosh Area School District Launches true dat(a).” Social Norms Campaign tells it like it is: students are making positive, healthy choices

[Oshkosh, WI]– The Oshkosh Area School District (OASD) is collaborating with re:TH!NK, Winnebago County’s Healthy Living Partnership, in order to launch a social norms campaign titled “true dat(a).” This campaign is centered on correcting student misperceptions about alcohol, tobacco, and drug use among their peers. The ultimate goal is to decrease the number of youth who use these substances. The Winnebago County Health Department (WCHD) has placed AmeriCorps member, Brenna Root, at the OASD to help launch the campaign.

The campaign will spread positive messages to middle and high school students, staff, families, and the Oshkosh community as a whole by utilizing data collected from Oshkosh’s 2010 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). In Winnebago County, the YRBS is administered every two years in high schools and middle schools in cooperation with Cooperative Educational Services Agency (CESA) 6 and countywide data is made available by the WCHD. This spring marks the second time that the YRBS will be conducted in Winnebago County, making countywide trend data available.

State of Wisconsin YRBS data released last week shows smoking rates among 9th through 12th graders have decreased by over 50% since 1993. Despite the significant decrease in smoking rates, teens still tend to think “Everyone is doing it.” The true dat(a) February campaign boasts that 82% of Oshkosh High School students do not smoke cigarettes daily. This positive statistic can be viewed on a billboard along Hwy 41, Northbound, near the Jackson Street exit.

“The true dat(a) campaign is truly unique in that it reaches and involves all stakeholders to include students, staff, families, and the Oshkosh community as a whole,” states Lisa McLaughlin, District Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Association (ATODA) Coordinator. “We’re proud to be spreading these positive messages to our students and our community in a new and exciting way in order to correct misperceptions and decrease substance use among youth.”

The true dat(a) campaign is centered on two distinct statements:
* If you think everyone is doing it, you are more likely to do it too, no matter what ‘it’ is.
* The true dat(a) shows everyone is NOT doing it.

“Informing students that the majority of their peers are acting in positive, healthy ways can create an environment in which students strive to imitate what they believe is typical of their peers.” says Kristin Walker, OASD Health Coordinator. School-based messaging and marketing includes posters and banners that highlight the monthly true dat(a) behavior. Teachers are encouraged to integrate true dat(a) into classroom discussions with students, as well as their conversations with parents and other staff members.

For more information about the 2011 Wisconsin YRBS results please visit For more information about the 2009 Winnebago County YRBS visit


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