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Risks of underage drinking highlighted at Stromness Academy

The cast of Smashed with Orkney MSP Liam McArthur (left).

An event designed to highlight the risks associated with underage drinking has at Stromness Academy.

The award-winning project, called Smashed, is currently touring Scottish schools to educate S1 and S2 pupils with a compelling alcohol education on the dangers of alcohol misuse.

This is done through methods such as getting pupils to watch a play about a group of friends who find themselves in trouble because of alcohol and an interactive workshop where pupils were incited to ask the cast questions on the issues brought up during the play and explore the consequences portrayed in the play.

Organised by Collingwood Learning and sponsored by drinks company Diageo, Smashed toured 37 Scottish schools in Scotland over a six-week period last autumn, reaching a total of 9,121 S1 and S2 students. Following the success of last year’s tour, the project began touring again this month and will continue until November, with performances in 50 schools, starting here in Orkney.

A recent report by Collingwood Learning on the impact of the 2018 Smashed tour showed a marked increase in the level of alcohol awareness among Scottish secondary school-aged students with 91 per cent feeling more equipped to make the right choice about drinking.

Encouragingly, the report also showed 96 per cent of students were less likely to drink alcohol underage after taking part.

Chris Simes from Collingwood Learning said: “We are delighted to be back touring Scottish schools and to be in Orkney again following the success of last year’s programme, which made a real impact on the understanding pupils have towards the risks of underage drinking and alcohol misuse. Our goal is to create a memorable experience for pupils that really builds their knowledge and changes attitudes towards alcohol.”

Following the 2018 Scottish tour, analysis also showed a 21 per cent increase in the number of students feeling more equipped to make the right choices when it comes to underage drinking. An 18 per cent increase was also found in the number of students being able to identify key dangers associated with consuming alcohol below the age of 18.

Orkney MSP, Liam McArthur was one of those who attended the event at Stromness Academy. Speaking after the performance, he said: “It’s so important that young people are aware of the dangers of alcohol abuse and helped, at the earliest opportunity, to develop responsible attitudes towards alcohol.

“I was impressed by the performance by Collingwood Learning, which was both innovative and engaging.  It clearly struck a chord with the pupils at Stromness Academy, who showed a real willingness to get involved and take on board the key messages.

“Finding creative ways of getting across information and advice is essential if it is to be effective. I’m sure the Smashed tour performances will be equally well-received in other schools across Scotland over the coming weeks and I wish them well.”

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