What is Kick Ash?

Kick Ash UK is a young person led smoking prevention programme. Young people in Year 10 are recruited to work as Kick Ash mentors to promote their 'proud to be smokefree' message. The Kick Ash mentors lead activities in their own schools and their partner primary schools. Kick Ash is currently based in Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire.

What activities do young people lead on?

  • Developing a Kick Ash marketing communications campaign for their school
  • Mentoring younger children between the ages of 11 and 13 around issues relating to smoking
  • Working with local businesses to prevent the under-age sale of tobacco products
  • Helping the development of stop smoking services for young people

Why do young people lead on activities?

The volunteers are encouraged to lead on Kick Ash activities to help develop their own confidence and their own awareness so they can make their own informed decisions about smoking and tobacco.

This greater confidence and personal awareness means they are able to support and influence other young people during mentoring activities and their friends in social situations about the importance of being smokefree.

The Kick Ash mentors are promoting the proud to be smokefree messsage; creating a new smokefree social norm.

Why does this work?

Evidence from the pilot programme indicated that not only was the programme acceptable by the young people involved, the schools and teachers, but that it also saw a considerable decline in the number of young people reporting that they regularly smoked: a 5% decline in the number of Year 10s reporting to be regular smokers and a 2.5% decline in Year 8 students.

What do young people learn about?

Young people on the Kick Ash programme learn:

  • How to be interviewed by the local media
  • How to shoot social reporter videos
  • How to work as a team to develop a launch event
  • How to lobby local politicians
  • About the effects of peer pressure
  • About health-related issues regarding smoking
  • How to influence and mentor young people
  • How to work with local businesses to reduce under-age sales

The majority of mentors taking part in the Kick Ash programme report increased confidence and ability to communicate with both younger and older people.

Why are the young people working with 13- and 11-year-olds?

Young people volunteering for Kick Ash work with 13-year-olds because the 2008 Cambridgeshire Health Related Survey – a schools-based survey – showed that the number of young people regualrly smoking triples between Year 8 and Year 10.

They also work with 11-year-olds to help develop their confidence and to help this particular age group begin to think about the risks associated with smoking. This has proved valuable for transition from primary to secondary school.

How are you evaluating this programme?

A detailed evaluation framework supports this programme with key components which include:

  • A health-related Behaviour Survey
  • Mentor feedback through focus groups and interviews
  • Smoking cessation rates
  • Trading Standards test purchasing results
  • Brand identity and positive news stories

After a successful pilot programme, we are improving our evaluation system and working with Kick Ash mentors to establish more specific outcome measures.

What were the results of the pilot programme?

We have seen a significant decrease in the number of Year 8 and 10 pupils reporting to have tried a cigarette in the week prior to the survey (2.5% in Year 8 students and 5% in Year 10 students between 2008 to 2010). Our evaluation methods cannot conclude if these results are directly attributable to the Kick Ash programme, but we are pleased with this downward trend and will continue to monitor progress over time. The Kick Ash programme received excellent feedback from mentors, parents, teachers and members of the public.

For more detail on the programme evaluation, please contact us.

What’s the future of the project?

Kick Ash aims to visit ten secondary and primary schools throughout Cambridgeshire over a three-year period. In 2012/13 Kick Ash has extended to Bedfordshire, where they are piloting the methodology within their school system.