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Students confront ‘smashed’ actions

Actors Muhammad [Mo] Nasir, Lucy Dawber and Todd Waters. PHOTO/KAREN COLTMAN

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Kicked off by funky music and set to a colourful graffiti themed backdrop, on Friday a few hundred Wairarapa school students watched a play about three teenage friends whose lives and friendship rapidly fall apart because of intoxication.

The play is part of the ‘Smashed Project’ brought to schools by the Life Education Trust. It is an education programme about the probable results of consuming alcohol while still at school.

It carries the themes of peer pressure, boredom, parental expectation, school crushes, drunkenness and blacking out, name calling, fighting with friends, assault, vomiting from alcohol and violence generated out of intoxication.

This was heavy stuff for 13- and 14-year-olds.

The Wairarapa College school auditorium was held in silence with all faces towards the stage.

After the play, Ella Robinson, 14, suggested that the young woman in the play, Charlotte, perhaps wasn’t such a good friend for giving Jack so much alcohol, but she also understood that she wanted to “fit in”.

Lauchlan Sims, 13, said Jack’s dad getting angry immediately because of his son’s vomiting was frightening and he thought Jack could have been, “grounded the next day”.

Awatea Carswell and Jorja Hunter, both 13, commented that they don’t like being around drunk people and both had experienced it.

“I thought it was disgusting the way Caleb pushed Charlotte and implied she was interested in him,” Hunter said.

Carswell agreed and said she found drunk adults to be pushy and over the top. She intended to stay away from alcohol while a student.

“Wanting to fit in is a big pressure but I reckon we can have lemonade even if we have to pretend it is alcohol,” Carswell said.

Wairarapa College head of health Esther Lanser said because alcohol was such a big part of socialising in New Zealand, combined with teenagers desire to fit in, made it difficult for young people to say “no”.

“I think having sports games to get to can be a great way to have a reason to say ‘no’ to a drink,” Lanser said.

“The students need strategies to say ‘no’ but they also need a culture around them that supports their choice not to drink when they don’t want to.”

Reaching out to 12,000 students

Smashed Project was launched in Wairarapa as part of a nationwide tour of secondary schools. It aims to deliver messages about the merits in delaying drinking.

The play was performed at Kuranui College on Wednesday and performed at Solway and Wairarapa colleges on Thursday.

The 30-minute play was followed by a question and answer session that discussed strategies about dealing with peer pressure and alcohol.

The project was established in Britain in 2005 and launched in New Zealand last year. The trust expects to reach over 12,000 Year 9 students this year.

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