Sussex Alcohol Awareness Initiative – 1,700 students to learn about risks of underage drinking

1,700 students from across Sussex get a hard-hitting lesson on the risks associated with underage drinking as part of an award-winning international programme that will reach 45,000 students across the UK this year.

Secondary school students will watch a play about a group of friends who find themselves in trouble as a result of their misuse of alcohol. The performance is followed by an interactive workshop where pupils will be invited to probe the cast on any of the issues brought up during the play and explore the consequences portrayed by the actors.

This performance is part of ‘Smashed’, an alcohol education and awareness programme sponsored by Diageo and delivered by Collingwood Learning. This tour will visit 90 schools in seven different regions across England, reaching 18,000 students. To date the programme has reached over 380,000 pupils in 1,610 schools across the UK since it began in 2005.

‘Smashed’ was developed in consultation with young people and has been designed to engage with pupils in a different way to typical school lessons. It combines the use of drama with interactive workshops to help young people understand the facts, causes, and consequences of alcohol misuse and the risks of underage drinking.

Henry Smith MP for Crawley said:

“Smashed is a fantastic initiative. Students come out of the sessions armed with the facts they need for later life, having participated in an eye-opening workshop on the risks of underage drinking. I am delighted that the Smashed project is visiting Crawley this year, and congratulate all the Sussex schools who are taking part.”

Peter Kyle MP for Hove, said:

“Educating our school pupils on issues such as peer pressure and what responsible drinking entails is essential for their future health and wellbeing, and I am glad to see these issues being tackled head-on in schools in Hove.”

Tim Loughton MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, said:

“I’ve been invovled in considerable work for campaigns addressing alcohol misuse, and Smashed is certainly one of the more original approaches I’ve encountered. Children are constantly given ‘do’s and ‘don’t’s from all angles, but using interactive performance to communicate the potential dangers of underage drinking and bring the students’ own thoughts into the conversation is both innovative and effective.”

‘Smashed’ is set to visit 21 countries over 12 months in 2019, with over 250,000 young people being taught about the risks and potential consequences of underage drinking, in a captivating and engaging way. Countries welcoming ‘Smashed’ this year include the USA, Australia, Brazil, Italy, Indonesia and Nigeria.

The programme, developed in collaboration with young people, has a real impact and empowers participants to make informed choices:

* 95% of students said they understood more about the dangers of underage drinking than they did before the workshop

* Students who knew the legal age for buying alcohol in their country increased from 78% to 94%

* 86% of pupils demonstrated confidence in where to get help with alcohol related issues after the programme (an increase of 33%)

* 15% have said the most important thing they learnt from the session was how to challenge peer pressure.

England is making progress to reduce levels of underage drinking. The number of boys and girls aged 8 to 15 that reported drinking alcohol has fallen significantly, sitting at 14% compared to 45% in 2003.2 However, there is still work to be done, as 16-24 year olds are the most likely demographic to binge on alcohol when they do drink.3 This is why ‘Smashed’ is targeting 12 to 16 year olds to help them make informed decisions in the future as they reach this age group.

Chris Simes from Collingwood Learning said:

“The Smashed team are thrilled to be travelling the length and breadth of the UK for another year as we tackle the culture of underage drinking. By combining powerful emotive theatre with engaging interactive workshops, our creative educational performances are making a difference nationwide. With Diageo’s support, we are making sure more of the next generation have the confidence and knowledge they need to stand up to peer pressures and understand the risks of alcohol misuse.”

Aileen Keyes, Head of Alcohol in Society Europe, Diageo said:

“Diageo are proud to be long-term sponsors of the ‘Smashed’ project and Collingwood Learning. Their imaginative yet hard-hitting workshops are unforgettable, successfully raising awareness of the problems underage drinking and alcohol misuse can cause. Due to reach 45,000 school pupils this year in the UK alone, the programme ensures that an ever-growing number of young people are equipped to make informed decisions about drinking alcohol as they head towards adulthood. Our ambition is now to reach five million people through the ‘Smashed’ programme by 2025.”

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