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Club HERO (Helping Everyone Reach Out)

Ages 10-12

Rating: Level 3


Created and sponsored by National Families in Action located in Atlanta, Ga., Club HERO (Helping Everyone Reach Out) is a multicomponent afterschool program designed to prevent youths’ drug use; increase knowledge about the harmful effects of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs (ATOD); improve ATOD refusal skills; increase perception and societal norms to discourage ATOD use; increase youths’ academic achievement; increase homework completion; increase feelings of support; improve attitudes about school and school bonding; increase parental involvement; improve community involvement; raise expectations for actions at home and at school; decrease disciplinary actions at home and at school; decrease sense of helplessness regarding social and environmental factors; increase of bonding of families to school; and increase resistance skills by youths.

Club HERO was designed to help parents, teachers, and the community prevent children from entering the drug culture. The program has seven principle components:

1. Student reward system
2. Homework/tutorial assistance
3. You Have The Right To Know About Drugs (YHTRTK) drug education course
4. Introduction to local community heroes
5. Parent involvement
6. Gardening and environmental awareness component
7. Summer day camp

Each Club HERO participant receives an intervention dosage of 6 hours per week, for 14 weeks, for a total of 84 possible participation hours. During each week in the semester, the dosage includes 30 minutes of winding down with a snack, 1 hour of the YHTRTK curriculum, and 1 hour of working on a parent and youth advocacy project. Other intervention activities include periodic outside speakers who serve as HEROs for the students, and working on gardening projects. In addition, once a month, the parents join the students to work on their advocacy project for 1½ hours. The remainder of the time is spent on recreation, cultural enrichment, and arts and crafts activities.

A basic feature throughout the program is the student reward system that is designed to offer visible motivation for student achievement. Students can earn points for a variety of achievements and behaviors related to school performance and participation in tasks at home. When enough points are accumulated, students can “purchase” small items as a reward for good work. The central curriculum of the Club HERO program is the drug education course developed by National Families in Action called You Have The Right To Know About Drugs. Over the course of 14 units (an introduction, 10 one-hour lessons, a dissection lab, and two sessions to plan and execute the shooting of a video), students learn how the brain works and how the use of drugs changes the brain, changes behavior, and produces addiction.


The design of the program’s longitudinal study used a randomized control group design. Sixth grade students were solicited at the beginning of each school year to join the project. Students who responded were blocked on gender and then randomly assigned to either the intervention (blue team) or control (gray team), resulting in about 30 students in each team each year. Participants were 100 percent African-American, with 80 percent from public or subsidized housing. A total of 635 youths were enrolled in the Club HERO evaluation research (336 treatment and 299 control). Data indicates that the program was implemented with a high degree of fidelity and that staff were trained and experienced. Multiple data sources and methods were used to collect outcome data including school records, parents, youth participants, program staff, and others. Data collection methods included a review of school and program records, academic achievement, self-report instruments, and telephone interviews. Nine variables were assessed: 1) ATOD use, 2) problem behavior, 3) ATOD social influences/expectation, 4) resilience—personal and social competence, 5) resilience—resistance and self-efficacy, 6) academic achievement, 7) school bonding, 8) family bonding, and 9) parent–school bonding. Data was collected at pretest and posttest each semester for each cohort and at 6-month and 18-month follow-ups. Tests for initial equivalency of groups indicated there were no statistically significant differences to any of the baseline variables between the treatment and control groups. Quantitative data was analyzed using repeat measure analysis of variance with time (four data points) and group (treatment versus control) as the independent variables. For some analyses, dosage (number of hours in the program) was used as a covariate.


The evaluation results show that there were no significant differences between the Club HERO participants and the controls with regard to any ATOD-use outcomes. Club HERO participants did, however, demonstrate significantly increased knowledge of ATOD use and its impact on African-American families and communities. In addition, compared with the controls, Club HERO participants demonstrated increased family bonding over the 2-year period from the beginning of the sixth grade to the beginning of the eighth grade.

Qualitative data indicates that parents saw many positive changes in their children, which they attributed to participation in Club HERO, including improvements in homework, report card grades, attitudes toward school, commitment toward school, and expectations for own performance as well as decreased disciplinary actions needed for the child at home. Teachers and program staff also reported that Club HERO participants improved in listening skills, following rules, doing homework, reduced absenteeism, and self-esteem.

Risk Factors


  • Favorable attitudes toward drug use/Early onset of AOD use/Alcohol and/or drug use
  • Life stressors


  • Family management problems/Poor parental supervision and/or monitoring
  • Poor family attachment/Bonding


  • Low academic achievement
  • Negative attitude toward school/Low bonding/Low school attachment/Commitment to school


  • Availability of alcohol and other drugs
  • Economic deprivation/Poverty/Residence in a disadvantaged neighborhood
  • Low community attachment


  • Association with delinquent and/or aggressive peers
  • Peer alcohol, tobacco, and/or other drug use

Protective Factors


  • High expectations
  • Perception of social support from adults and peers
  • Self-efficacy
  • Social competencies and problem-solving skills


  • High expectations of students
  • Strong school motivation / Positive attitude toward school
  • Student bonding (attachment to teachers, belief, commitment)


  • High expectations
  • Presence and involvement of caring, supportive adults
  • Rewards for prosocial community involvement


  • Involvement with positive peer group activities


National Families in Action and EMSTAR Research, Inc. 1999. Club HERO Final Report (12/99). National Families in Action. Atlanta, Ga.


Paula Kemp
National Families in Action
2957 Clairmont Road NE, Suite 150
Atlanta, GA 30329
Phone: (404) 248-9679
Fax: (404) 248-1312
Web site:

Technical Assistance Provider

Gregg Raduka
Director of Prevention Education
6045 Atlantic Blvd.
Norcross, GA 30071
Phone: (770) 239-7442
Fax: (770) 239-7443