Longford Transition Year students raise awareness of substance abuse

Ellen Kenny

Reporter:

Ellen Kenny

Email:

newsroom@longfordleader.ie

Drug Awareness Talk

Ann Marie Reilly, Gerry Warnock, Lionel Mullally, Eugene McGee, Michael Belton. Winners: Mercy Ballymahon; Jill Dennehy, Niamh Dempsey, Ellen Shannon, Ciara Mulligan, Missing: Laoise Nerney.

Transition Year students throughout the county were rewarded by the County Longford Drugs and Alcohol Forum (CLDAF) for raising awareness of the prevention of drug and alcohol abuse in the Temperance Hall last Friday morning.

Students in St. Mel's College, Meán Scoil Mhuire, Mercy Secondary School Ballymahon, Moyne Community School, Árdscoil Phadraig and Cnoc Mhuire made almost two dozen videos after visits from the Community Police in Longford.

These videos covered issues such as peer pressure, drunk-driving and the impacts substance abuse can have on a person and their friends and families.

Garda Lionel Mullally said: "Community Police in Longford spoke to all secondary schools across the county and TY coordinators to take part in the project.

“We addressed and made a presentation to almost 400 students across the county during October and early November.

“What we in Community Police suggested to CLDAF was that teenagers are like a new language you have to learn and it would be great if they could consider what we told them and translate it in such a way that it was accessible to others their age."

One video from each school was shortlisted, with the students involved invited to attend a presentation and awards ceremony in the Temperance Hall last Friday.

Awards were presented by well-known GAA personality Eugene McGee, who said the leadership shown by the students in what they had done was "fantastic".

Awards in the form of One4All vouchers were given to all shortlisted students, while the overall winners, Mercy Secondary School Ballymahon, were given the perpetual trophy and a financial prize for their school's TY fund.

Moyne Community School, the first runner up, was also given a contribution to their TY funds.

One Ballymahon student, Niamh Dempsey, said: "It was obviously brilliant to win because we put so much hard work in, so to get to get the reward of winning the overall prize was brilliant.

"We hope it will make people aware of how bad things can go when you get addicted to alcohol and drugs.

“We knew how much young people's appearance means to them, so showing them how bad your appearance can become when become an addict, we felt that the video would become very effective if we just made it visual."

The County Longford Drugs and Alcohol Forum (CLDAF) is a programme concentrated on raising awareness for the treatment and prevention of substance abuse.

It is involved with Midlands Drugs and Alcohol Forum, the Gardaí, the HSE, LEAP, and Foróige.

They introduced this new method of raising awareness in teens last year with the students of Meán Scoil Mhuire Longford.

This was their first year involving schools across the county and if the success of the students is anything to go by, it certainly won't be the last.

To see the winning video, visit www.longfordleader.ie.