RPA Youth Leadership Group Unmasks “Join the 74” Campaign

Vice Mayor Price and Chief of Police Jones with members of “Join The 74.”

After painting the community with teaser signs saying, “Join The 74,” Roanoke Prevention Alliance (RPA) has finally revealed that “74” stands for a positive statistic from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

RPA has been working with the Youth Leadership Group, consisting of Roanoke City Middle School students, since January on this social norms marketing campaign, designed to support positive youth behavior.

With the help of RPA and community leaders, the Youth Leadership Group decided on the campaign slogan “Join The 74.” The group distributed posters and signs in the community teasing the message and building anticipation. After successfully getting the attention of southeast Roanoke residents, RPA scheduled a press conference to explain.

Reading from a prepared statement, Trinity Breedlove and Taylor Rooksberry said, “What does it mean? Don’t worry. It’s a good thing! If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t be standing here with the support of Roanoke Police Chief Jones, Vice Mayor Price and so many other community leaders.

“The number 74 gives me hope. Hope for future generations. Hope that it can provide much needed encouragement to other middle and high school students as we get older.”

Studies have shown, “attaining positive rather than negative norms assures optimal development in youth,” (Gambone & Connell, 2004; Fraser-Thomas, Cote, & Deakin, 2005). In this project, middle school students were asked to pick and illustrate a positive statistic about alcohol from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which is conducted every two years in Roanoke City.

The students chose the following: “74 percent of 10th grade students in Roanoke City did not drink (alcohol) in the past 30 days,” because it challenged their perceptions of normal teen behavior.

In addition to drawing illustrations, the students learned about marketing techniques and other aspects of communications from mpiTOO, a marketing company that works with non-profit organizations.

Now that the meaning has been revealed, the posters and signs are being altered to add the explanation and help youth, parents and other adults recognize drinking is not the norm.

The Roanoke Prevention Alliance supports the development of healthy, non-violent, alcohol and drug-free youth and young adults in Roanoke City through collaborative partnerships.  Special thanks go to Family Service of the Roanoke Valley, Boys and Girls Club of Southwest Virginia, Presbyterian Community Center, Roanoke Public Libraries, Roanoke City Parks and Recreation, Roanoke Police Department, Roanoke Fire-EMS, Southeast Action Forum, Vice Mayor Price, and all of the businesses and members of the community that have supported the youth in implementing this campaign.

The “Join the 74” campaign was funded by a Drug Free Communities grant and was designed to challenge how the community views teen behavior