30th November 2018
Writing: Shubhan Selvaranjan (Year 8) and Bilal Mobarik (Year 12)
Editing: Ben Corby (Year 9)
Last Friday, a group of Sixth Formers volunteered to help spread the awareness of drinking alcohol in excess, smoking and consuming illegal drugs. This talk was aimed at Years 7 and 8, who were immediately hooked by the seriousness of the topic. We had already been told that smoking is bad and not to drink alcohol, however, we had never before heard such a frank and direct approach to the topic.
The talk for one Year 8 teaching group was delivered by a Sixth Form student who had personally been involved in quite a serious incident involving alcohol. His touching story had us all listening intently, and left a real impact on those of us who previously had joked about drugs.
One Year 8 student said: 'The Sixth Formers enlightened us with their experiences and the pros and cons of taking drugs. It was different and I liked it. It blew me away.'
After two training sessions, the Year 12 students who had volunteered to deliver the sessions gave talks about drugs, alcohol, and smoking. This was part of a peer-led initiative to inform younger students about these topics, which are often not discussed properly. Importantly, the fact the presenters themselves were also students meant there was much less fear about asking questions which may not have been asked in the presence of a teacher - creating a very open environment in which to help answer all the students’ questions and worries.
The training sessions were invaluable in helping us include the most suitable content to our talks - in particular, we were encouraged not to simply state the negative effects of excessive use of each of these substances, but rather to provide the students with information to let them make informed decisions. Another important aspect of the talks was to ensure we detailed how to keep safe in situations involving drugs, for example. Through a combination of personal experience and research were able to give lots of invaluable advice - such as setting up a code word with parents to get them to pick you up if a situation becomes uncomfortable.
Because our group focused primarily on alcohol and smoking, we were aware that the negative effects of excessive consumption of these were well known among the students. Although we did touch on this, we tried to also uncover some of the reasons people start using alcohol and tobacco, with peer pressure as a particularly compelling force. Rather than lecturing from the front, the presenters in all groups strived to make their sessions as interactive as possible, which made them more enjoyable. We also left time for questions at the end to ensure there was no remaining confusion about these complicated topics.
In all, I think it’s fair to say all parties involved found this programme extremely beneficial, and I would like to thank Mr Ambrose for coordinating it.