Pow­er­ful project

Benalla Ensign - - Front Page - By Simon Rup­pert

FCJ Col­lege Be­nalla’s year 8 and 9 stu­dents were treated to an in­ter­ac­tive play and work­shop on Wed­nes­day, which high­lighted the dan­gers of un­der­age drink­ing.

The Smashed Project is an ini­tia­tive run by the Gib­ber Theatre Com­pany, which is be­ing pre­sented to kids across Aus­tralia.

Stud­ies show chil­dren are drink­ing al­co­hol far less fre­quently than pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions, and those who start are do­ing it when they are older.

Gib­ber ac­tor Dom Nimo said while these fig­ures were en­cour­ag­ing, it was im­por­tant for ini­tia­tives such as the Smashed Project to take ad­van­tage of this mo­men­tum to help those who still had the po­ten­tial to start drink­ing at a young age.

‘‘The Smashed Project is an in­no­va­tive and pow­er­ful thea- tre and ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram,’’ Mr Nimo said.

‘‘It’s ded­i­cated to break­ing the cul­ture of un­der­age drink­ing.

‘‘We go into schools, it’s a one-hour project di­vided into two parts.

‘‘For the first 30 min­utes we do a play, which is pretty hard­hit­ting and pow­er­ful.

‘‘It fol­lows the story of three teenagers who binge drink down at the lo­cal park.

‘‘At first ev­ery­thing is fine and, with­out giv­ing too much away, some­thing quite hor­rific hap­pens at the end, which then sparks a con­ver­sa­tion for the stu­dents to have af­ter­wards.’’

It is this in­ter­ac­tion that makes the Smashed Project a bit dif­fer­ent from other in­school theatre pro­grams.

Fol­low­ing the play the ac­tors start by ask­ing the stu­dents who they thought was re­spon- sible for the hap­pened.

‘‘That bit of in­ter­ac­tion gets the kids talk­ing and in­ter­act­ing with us,’’ Dom said.

‘‘We then do a role-play­ing ex­er­cise with the stu­dents where they’re able to change what hap­pens in the play.

‘‘They can make de­ci­sions and change the story prior to the hor­rific in­ci­dent.’’

The pro­gram, which has been ex­tremely suc­cess­ful, started in the UK in 2004 and his since grown to a world-wide au­di­ence.

This is the first year it has been tri­alled in Aus­tralia and Mr Nimo said it had been fun putting an Aussie spin on the play.

‘‘It’s great to see how it’s worked over­seas, we take what is al­ready there and do our Aussie take on it,’’ he said.

‘‘And the feed­back we’ve had has been amaz­ing. bad thing that

‘‘It’s all re­ally pos­i­tive and what we’re told is that the in­ter­ac­tion makes the dif­fer­ence.

‘‘We en­cour­age the kids to have very pos­i­tive con­ver­sa­tions, and we’re just there to guide them.’’

Throughout the Vic­to­rian tour, more than 5500 year 8 and 9 stu­dents from more than 26 schools have taken part.

Au­di­ence eval­u­a­tions have demon­strated a pos­i­tive ef­fect among teens across a range of key learn­ing ob­jec­tives.

96 per cent were con­fi­dent in know­ing where to get help with al­co­hol-re­lated is­sues — up a sig­nif­i­cant 38 per cent on preper­for­mance num­bers.

85 per cent said they were un­likely to drink al­co­hol un­der­age.

97 per cent en­joyed the per­for­mance and work­shop and 98 per cent thought it was a good way to learn about the dan­gers of un­der­age drink­ing.

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Mak­ing a dif­fer­ence: The Gib­ber theatre com­pany present the Smashed Project to FCJ Col­lege Years 8 and 9 stu­dents.

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