Students from Northampton High School and Smith Vocational School team up on exhibit about marketing drugs to teens

Wednesday, April 09, 2014
NORTHAMPTON — Students from Northampton and Smith Vocational and Agricultural high schools are teaming up to create an exhibit that explores the powerful role marketing plays in the relationships between teenagers and cigarettes, alcohol and other drugs.

Three different student groups have been working on a project that aims to document messages teens pick up from advertising for those products — ideas that often conflict with what they hear from parents and teachers.

Their work will be displayed in an exhibit that opens with a reception from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. May 1 in the Hearing Room at City Hall, said Ananda Lennox, youth engagement coordinator for the Northampton Prevention Coalition, which is sponsoring the project.

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To create the exhibit, students have been using Photo Voice, a method of combining words and photographs to express the views of groups often overlooked in public policy discussions. Lennox said.

Over the past few week, students have been taking photographs and developing narratives about messages contained in drug and alcohol advertising.

“Some kids picked up on the cultural misappropriation of using religious relics to sell the idea of marijuana as a vehicle for enlightenment,” Lennox said. “Others remarked on how gender is a concept that is sold.”

Their work “captures how they see the world around them and how they feel and think about that world,” said Lennox, who was at Northampton High School Monday working with students on their photos. The Prevention Coalition hopes to use the project to generate wider community discussion about teen behavior and marketing campaigns aimed at teens.

The exhibit will be on display at City Hall through May 14.