Southwestern Vermont Health Care Launches Teen Meme Program

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BENNINGTON, Vt. — Teens in southwestern Vermont and the surrounding area can now receive memes on their cell phones sent from Southwestern Vermont Health Care as part of a new program, SVHC's Life Hacks.

The word "hack" has many meanings. When used in this way, it describes clever solutions to common concerns or tips that make difficult situations easier. These hacks — like how to manage stress, drink more water and navigate peer pressure — are presented as images with overlaid text, known as memes. The memes are specifically designed for teens and will be delivered via text message.

"Teenagers communicate via text messaging and images. Memes that link images and text in funny or interesting ways can be very memorable. Texted memes provides an opportunity to reach teens in ways other communications channels cannot," said Jim Trimarchi, Southwestern Vermont Health Care's director of planning.

Students 13 and older should text "GO" to 802-768-9224 to enroll. In response, they will receive a link to the enrollment agreement and instructions to text "agree" after they and a parent or legal guardian read and understand the Terms of Service and consent to receiving text messages from SVMC at the phone number used. Usage and data rates may apply, for which SVMC is not responsible. If these texts are no longer wanted or if there is disagreement with the terms of service, text "STOP." Text "TECH HELP" to receive instructions.

The program will use graphic texts with vibrant images and playful memes. Many will be interactive with questions for students to answer. SVHC will use collected responses to gauge interest and adjust topics; however, individuals’ answers will not be recorded or traceable and SVMC staff will not know who is enrolled as phone numbers will be blinded.

"We hope students find the program fun and useful while developing skills useful for the rest of their lives," Trimarchi said.

The program was developed by Rachel Newton and the Americorps VISTA program. The memes are being developed in collaboration with area youth. Messages are scheduled to go out once a week, typically on Friday mornings.

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