Launched in 2010 and funded by alcohol charity Drinkaware, Active Communities Network in partnership with Premiership Rugby has developed ‘Side Stepping Alcohol Misuse’ – an innovative new project delivering alcohol education to disadvantaged and hard-to-reach 13-19 year olds across the country.Working closely with Premiership Rugby, the nationwide initiative was rolled out across 12 regions. The aim of the funding was to develop resources and offer training to community staff and other local youth providers – for them to deliver an alcohol-specific education programme to the young people through Premiership Rugby Clubs.
Training consisted of two parts; the first session developed general alcohol awareness, as well as learning about the effects of alcohol on mental and physical health. This was offered to the clubs’ U20’s and youth players to enable them to understand the effects of alcohol but also to understand their responsibilities as role models and ambassadors.
In the second part of the training, community staff were educated in their delivery of the six key alcohol messages including addressing alcohol and safety, harm minimisation, alcohol units and sensible drinking.
What sets this programme apart is the combination of alcohol awareness messages with fun and active rugby sessions. The Project Leader of Active Communities Network, explains: “Addressing alcohol issues with young people can sometimes be difficult, particularly when working in hotspots noted for high levels of disengaged young people. However, we are confident that incorporating sport-based techniques into our education plans will prove a successful way of engaging these young boys and girls”.
Techniques set to be employed by community staff and local youth workers will mix traditional rugby training with quiz-style questions on alcohol, warm-up relays and the use of specially designed beer goggles which, when worn, impair vision in a similar fashion to alcohol.
A DVD and additional programme materials were made available as part of the scheme; including rugby-specific resources, as well as materials focusing on the health effects of alcohol, how to count units, keeping a drinks diary and highlighting the dangers of alcohol misuse.
Active Communities Network, Premiership Rugby and the 12 Premiership clubs, are looking forward to seeing the results of the scheme: “If this project is a success, the training of the clubs’ community staff and their involvement will lay the foundations for the delivery of alcohol messages to a large number of young people. In the long term our goal is to create a replicable model of alcohol education and awareness through sports-based youth inclusion work which can be rolled-out to an even greater audience. This project is able to go ahead because of Drinkaware and we want to do them proud by extending their excellent work to the community.”
For some key facts about alcohol and drinking responsibly please visit: www.drinkaware.co.uk.