Dangers of underage drinking take centre stage as Sunderland pupils watch hard-hitting play

Thousands of pupils will watch a hard-hitting play on the dangers of underage drinking.

Monday, 20th January 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 10:26 am
Smashed underage drinking campaign project cast, left to right, Jake Talbot, Ben Hamer and Alex Hannant visit Sunderland's Portland Academy.

Performances are mainly aimed at 12 to 14-year-olds and are followed by interactive workshops in which youngsters can question the cast on any of the issues brought up during the production and explore the consequences portrayed by the actors.

The play, part of Collingwood Learning’s Smashed alcohol education and awareness programme, focuses on a group of friends who end up in trouble following alcohol misuse and is touring a host of schools in the Sunderland area throughout January.

The first pupils to watch it were at Portland Academy, in Weymouth Road, Chapel Garth, Sunderland, which caters for people aged 11-19 with learning difficulties.

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Portland Academy students with the cast of the Smashed underage drinking campaign project.

Assistant headteacher Karen Hart said afterwards: “Our pupils can be more vulnerable in society so we need to teach them about how to be safe in the community.

“This hit the mark perfectly with an appropriate use of language and a high level of engagement from students.”

Politicians have also backed the programme and Sharon Hodgson, who is shadow minister for public health as well as MP for Washington and Sunderland West, said: “Smashed is an example of how we can do things differently when it comes to finding ways to improve health and well being.

“Their exemplary use of theatre vividly conveys the risks of alcohol abuse.

“And the success of their approach means they have grown to take their workshop tours worldwide. But I’m particularly glad pupils in my constituency have the opportunity to participate.”

Chris Simes, from Collingwood Learning, added: “This is a real change from the usual classroom lesson and makes the risks of underage drinking impossible to forget.

“We help teachers carry these lessons forward by delivering personal, social and health education support after the visit, and offer parents free online support materials.

The tour is visiting 90 schools nationwide and expected to reach 14,500 pupils.

Smashed, which is supported by alcoholic drinks giant Diageo, was also scheduled in January to visit Thornhill Academy, Academy 360, Washington Academy, St Robert of Newminster School, Whitburn Church of England Academy, St Anthony’s Girls Catholic Academy and St Aidan’s Catholic Academy.