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Photos: New Smoking Prevention Program Launched in Schools

Teens get firsthand look at addiction, peer pressure

EAU CLAIRE, Wis., April 9, 2008 /PRNewswire/ -- Despite the known health risks, people still use tobacco products and struggle with addiction and tobacco-related diseases. Reaching young people before they start smoking is key to saving lives.

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The new ySTART(TM) Addiction Education Program from Realityworks gives young people an experience with tobacco addiction using handheld technology. The PreventPak(TM) Addiction Simulator employs behavior modification principles to help teens practice refusal skills in a true-to-life peer pressure situation. A two-day simulation is paired with an engaging curriculum-designed to meet the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines for health education programs to prevent tobacco use and addiction. Upon completion of the simulation, reports are generated that measure each participant's performance. The goal of the ySTART Program is to influence healthy behaviors in young people before tobacco robs their power to resist.

Results from a nationwide effectiveness study show that students who participated in the ySTART(TM) Program improved substantially more in attitude, beliefs, knowledge, smoking intentions and levels of self-control concerning a smoking addiction than teens who experienced their school's tobacco education curriculum alone. ySTART was field-tested in middle school classrooms across the nation and is currently utilized in five states.

According to researcher Min Qi Wang, Ph.D., University of Maryland, "Results show that the ySTART(TM) Program is an effective educational tool in influencing middle school students' attitudes toward smoking."

ySTART(TM) is a collaboration between an award-winning U.S. health teacher and the innovative Realityworks engineering team -- the same team that created the world's first infant simulator.

"As a health educator it is crucial to create real life situations so our students are better equipped to face them out in the real world," said Ryan Erbe, of Felix Festa Middle School, West Nyack, New York, who participated in early testing. "Students come away with an extremely valuable experience."

Health educators, school teachers and youth program leaders are encouraged to try this new interactive approach to getting their messages about tobacco-free living and healthy life skills across to youth ages 10 and up.

About Realityworks

Realityworks products combine technology with curriculum to create unforgettable, true-to-life experiences. Educators around the world use our innovative experiential learning tools to promote healthy choices and responsibility. Realityworks is the creator of the original Baby Think It Over(TM) and RealCare(R) Baby infant simulators. See or

SOURCE Realityworks, Inc.
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