Project Northland is a school-based, three-year-long,
multi-component program designed to discourage substance use and promote
positive youth development in adolescents. The program has community,
school, peer, and family level components, and is administered to students on a
weekly basis from grades 6 to 9. Experimental evaluation, with random
assignment of paired schools, shows that Project Northland lowered adolescents’
initiation and use of alcohol, increased their perceived ability to resist peer
pressure, and increased their communication about drinking with parents.
Participants who were not alcohol-users at the beginning of the program
experienced additional impacts, including lower levels of cigarette and
marijuana use by 8th grade.
DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM
Target population: Adolescents
Project Northland was a multi-component program designed to
discourage substance use and promote positive youth development in
adolescents. Training sessions or group activities were administered on a
weekly basis from 6th– to 8th-grade. Project
Northland operated on the family, school, peer, and community levels through
components such as parent-child communication sessions, the administration of a
social-behavioral curriculum, peer leadership training, and community
organizing. The program also addressed community-specific alcohol programs
and policies by changing the ease of students’ access to alcohol. Project
Northland aimed to increase participants’ bonding, self-efficacy, prosocial
involvement, and social, emotional, and behavioral competencies.
The cost of materials for the program is:
·$245 per grade for materials for 30 students and a teacher’s
·$755 for materials for all 3 grades and community component, and
·$1,750 on the first day for training of up to 30 teachers and
$1,500 for each additional day.
EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM
Perry, C. L., Williams, C. L., Veblen-Mortenson, S.,
Toomey, T. L., Komro, K. A., Anstine, P. S., McGovern, P. G., Finnegan, J. R.,
Forster, J. L., Wagenaar, A. C., & Wolfson, M. (1996). Project Northland:
Outcomes of a communitywide alcohol use prevention program during early
adolescence. American Journal of Public Health, 86(7), 956-965.
Evaluated population: 1901 students in 20
rural schools in northeastern Minnesota
were studied over all three years of the program. (This comprised 81% of
the original sample; analyses show that the initial and final samples were not
significantly different in baseline alcohol use.) Students were followed
from grades 6 to 8, and were 94% Caucasian and 4.5% Native American.
Approach: Ten schools were randomly selected to
receive Project Northlands programming or the standard alcohol and drug
education program that was normally given. Each year, intervention
students received Project Northlands programming tailored to their age and
changing environment. The programs had behavioral curriculum, peer
leadership and community activities, and a component designed to encourage
parental involvement. Written curriculum and parent materials were used
to standardize the intervention program. At baseline and years one
through three, students completed a questionnaire on alcohol and drug use, peer
influences, self-efficacy, parent communication, perceptions of alcohol access,
etc. Tendency to use alcohol was also measured.
Results: The study showed that Project Northland had
several positive impacts compared with control group students. Participation
in the program increased participants’ ability to resist peer influence,
increased participants’ likelihood of communication with their parents on
drinking-related issues, and lowered participant levels of alcohol use and
initiation of alcohol use. Participants who reported not using alcohol at
the beginning of the program experienced additional positive impacts by the end
of the program, including lower levels of cigarette and marijuana use and
higher levels of self-efficacy.
SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION
Perry, C. L., Williams, C. L., Veblen-Mortenson, S., Toomey,
T. L., Komro, K. A., Anstine, P. S., McGovern, P. G., Finnegan, J. R., Forster,
J. L., Wagenaar, A. C., & Wolfson, M. (1996). Project Northland: Outcomes
of a communitywide alcohol use prevention program during early adolescence. American
Journal of Public Health, 86(7), 956-965.
Rissel, C. E., Perry, C. L., Wagenaar, A.
C., Wolfson, M., Finnegan, J. R., & Komro, K. A. (1996). Empowerment, alcohol, 8th grade students and health
promotion. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, 15,
Link to purchase program guide:
Program also discussed in the following Child Trends publication(s):
Hair, E. C., Jager, J., & Garrett, S.
B. (2001). Background for community-level work on social competency
in adolescence: Reviewing the literature on contributing factors. Washington, DC:
KEYWORDS: Middle School, Adolescence (12-17),
School-based, Community-based, Parent/Family Component, Substance Use,
Community, Skills Training, Education, Alcohol Use, Tobacco Use, Illicit Drugs,
Self Efficacy, Peer Pressure, Social/Emotional Health, Behavioral Problems,
Rural, White or Caucasian, Native American.
Program information last updated 3/31/09