An innovative global theatre and education program has visited local schools in the hope of breaking the culture of underage drinking.
Year 8, 9 and 10 students from Glenmore Park, Colyton and Erskine Park high schools took part in ‘The Smashed Project’.
Company Director for the drama-based training group Gibber, Tim Watt, explained how the program helps students.
“We engage the young people in a highly entertaining dynamic theatre show which is about 30 minutes long, then the actors work with young people in the audience to look at what happens during the performance,” Mr Watt said.
“They see if they can identify during the performance the times when young people succumb to peer pressure and how they can deal with that and change the outcomes, so the second half of the program is interactive and focuses on if they can change the outcomes for the characters in the play.”
The program has been running in Australia for a year and has seen an increase in the knowledge and attitudes of students after the performances.
“One of the big things we have found is their knowledge of where to get help if they need that, so we promote the Kids Help Line during the performance so they know where to go afterwards and what to do and say if they are put in situations where they feel they are being peer pressured into drinking,” Mr Watt said.
“We had a student who said as a result they had stopped binge drinking and managed to have the courage to get help, which was a real positive for us to see the impact we have.”
While government statistics say the rate of young people drinking is on the decline, Mr Watt said it was important to keep the message front and centre about the dangers of underage drinking.
“We aren’t talking about long-term effects of alcohol like in 30 years but what can happen now on a night out that can affect them in their future career choices,” Mr Watt said.
“I think it’s important to keep telling our message, it is positive they are taking it on board and the trends are changing but we need to make sure that they keep changing and getting better.’’
A graduate of Western Sydney University, Emily covers community news and entertainment for the Western Weekender.