Coalitions in Action – Weakley County Prevention Coalition – Prevention Monitor Program

“The prevention monitor program started in Fall of 2020,” began Cannon Brawley, the Program Coordinator for the Weakley County Prevention Coalition (WCPC) based in Martin, Tennessee. “Courtney, WCPC’s Director, was writing for a grant and trying to find a way to spend $10,000. As she was coming up with ideas, I passed by a TV at the University of Tennessee at Martin (UTM) that was displaying a static slide. It got me thinking, wouldn’t it be great to have a slideshow playing with information about prevention? So, I pitched the idea to Courtney and decided to call it the Prevention Monitor Program. She wrote that into the grant we were applying for, and we got it, and that was one of the main pieces they said they wanted to see the results of how it turned out.”

“I began by talking to all of the school principals, and they really loved the idea. Now, it’s in all the middle and high schools in the area, as well as the Martin Enrichment Academy, which is an after-school program for kids in need sponsored by our fiscal agent, the Martin Housing Authority. Currently we are working on two more: the Stewart Center, which is a community resource center, and I’m also working on putting up a kiosk in Martin’s new public library when it opens.”

“For a while, I ran the Prevention Screen Program on flash drives. I’d stop by the schools biweekly to update the slides, but to complete the loop where I’d visit every middle and high school in the area, it was almost a four-hour process to update them all. I was like, this program is amazing, but it takes up your whole day, which is why we needed to switch to instant streaming. However, all these companies that offer that service were super expensive, and I didn’t want to ask the state to pay the ridiculous subscription fees, where the most inexpensive option for streaming to nine monitors would be $1,000 per month.”

“Eventually, I found this streaming provider that left their YouTube employee tutorial videos public, so I taught myself how to set the screens up so that they would turn on at a certain time of day, and by using an Amazon fire stick and Amazon photos, I could livestream picture slideshows. These are all run from a cloud. Each monitor has their own dedicated album, so there are albums called, Martin Middle School, Martin High School, Dresden Middle School, Dresden High School. I can instantly take one picture out of a slideshow and put another one in, and the other albums aren’t affected. I can do school-specific messages and control it from any device, anywhere. All you need is an Amazon Prime Account. It’s super easy to work with and super simple. You can’t ask for better compared to how much people will pay for it.”

“Currently, we have nine prevention monitors. They are 54” flatscreens, which run for about $250 to $300. The firesticks were purchased refurbished off of Amazon, and they work perfectly and cost only $20 each. If you buy them in bulk, that price can go down as well. We typically place these screens in the school lobby or the cafeteria.”

“Dresden Middle School’s principal loves this program. He says every time there’s a basketball game, everyone has to go through the lobby to get to the gym, and he’ll see people stop to read the screens because of the eye-catching graphics. We use graphics from the CDC, SAMHSA, CADCA, the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and the Tennessee Department of Health. We especially have infographics that focus on alcohol, tobacco and social norms campaigns. We also have mental health awareness slides, which we partnered with the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network on for, and we’ve partnered with the Tennessee Department of Health for slides on Covid-19 safety and wearing masks, things like that.”

“How I get principals to really love this idea, is I can give them admin access to the slides, so they are able to add in their own content. If the school wants to put up a calendar or pictures of the football game, they have five slides that I’ve given them access to where they can put whatever they want.”

“These images are up for six to eight seconds. We set up the slideshow on slow and shuffle, and that way there is no precise order that’s going to get stale. Think about how static school hallways are. They rarely change. If something changed in my school hallway from freshman to senior year, I noticed immediately since you’re there every day. Whenever we update those prevention monitors biweekly, and kids see a new image in the rotation, they stop and read it because you’re just drawn to a change in your environment.”

“We try to stay away from graphics with too much text or text that’s difficult to read. We typically go for big words, big numbers and cute infographics. We include quit line resources, partner graphics and sometimes we just have short messages like, ‘Life is a highway, you better drive sober.’”

“Also, youth coalition members can send me designs to put into the slideshow. We teach our youth members Canva, and they can send me what they create. It’s a great way to get kids involved. A lot of the times if they create designs, we also print it and laminate it to put up in the bathrooms or outside the nurse’s office in the hallway. Anytime they walk by the monitors and see the slide they sent me they get really excited. We’re going to have a meme contest for Red Ribbon week, and while the voting will all be done via social media, all the memes will go up on school’s prevention monitors so they can proudly show their friends.”

“Also, we have an amazing partnership with our local university, the University of Tennessee at Martin. They have a Healthy Hawks team, which is comprised of students advocating for all aspects of health, but they also work in substance misuse prevention. They have these huge kiosk stands, which are quite expensive – about $2,000 each - but they are basically like giant smartphones. For those slideshows, we share the slide space with them. They get five slides; we get five slides.”

“For the kiosks, I create a presentation using google slides. With google slides, I’m still able to instantly update the slideshow, but I can also put in a photo with a hyperlink. People can go up to the slide, and if they see it says to tap to take a survey, they can tap the picture and instantly take it. When they’re done it closes, and the slides resume.”

“We had one google survey at UTM and I could see most of the answers came in from the kiosk stands. I’d say in one week’s time, it was a sample size of about 65 students.”

“You can do some really cool stuff with the kiosks. You can have surveys and use filters since there are cameras on it. We purchased one filter from Snapchat that I added a smoke effect to, so you could walk up and see how your skin could age from smoking. We display videos and graphics, and these things run at UTM right in front of their cafeteria and Student Health center.”

In addition to the prevention monitors set up in the local middle and high schools and at the University of Tennessee Martin, screens are set up at the local gym, psychiatric hospital and soon will be set up in the local library. Cannon shared he also plans to reach out to the local hospital to offer this program on screens in their lobbies. For more information, or if you are looking to implement this in your community, you can reach out to Cannon at wcpccoordinator@gmail.com.