Addiction group’s DVD urges young people to ask: ‘What if?’

PAL representatives Mary Todd, Diane Kleyn, Beverley White and Anette White. INLT 40-330-PR
PAL representatives Mary Todd, Diane Kleyn, Beverley White and Anette White. INLT 40-330-PR

PREVENTING Addiction Larne (PAL) has launched a DVD which it hopes will encourage teenagers to talk openly about the issues affecting their lives.

The What If? DVD launched at the McNeill Theatre on Wednesday, January 25 has been designed for young people by young people. It features real-life stories, as told by a number of teenagers and older subjects who reflect on their own experiences and how they have come through them.

The DVD is now available free-of-charge for use by schools and community groups by visiting www.palwhatif.com

“The personal video stories are a springboard to open and frank discussion about alcohol, drugs, suicide and self-harm, sex and relationships,” said PAL press officer Beverley White.

“We had found that many young people feel society has a perception of them that they can’t change and they feel that too many of the resources that are geared towards them are put in place without consulting young people themselves,” she explained.

“We wanted to get the message across that it’s good to talk about all the stuff that’s going on around them, but we didn’t want to say what the issues should be – we wanted the young people to tell us,” Beverley added.

PAL volunteers spoke with members of the Larne Gangway group, run by youth worker David McAllister.

“They were shy at first, but once they realised we were interested in what they had to say most of them opened up and very quite vocal and put everything in to the project,” said Beverley.

The main factors identified during the preliminary discussions included self-harm, teenage pregnancy, alcohol and drugs.

The next step was to get some of the young people to speak to camera about their experiences. One interviewee tells how she started self-harming when she was still at primary school; another how falling pregnant aged 15 changed her relationship with her family.

Subjects tell how low self-esteem, phobias and anxieties led to alcohol abuse and how drugs became a means of escape from reality.

“They don’t hold anything back and some of the stories are shocking, but the DVD shows that people do come through these experiences. It also shows that by talking about the stuff that matters to them young people can learn the truth about some of the myths that are out there,” Beverley explained.

PAL was formed after the death of a local youth who had used methedrone. It created a shockwave in the community and a group of mothers got together to try and find out as much information as they could about so-called legal highs and educate people about the realities of drug use.

The group produced the What If? DVD with the help of funding from Awards for All, the Department for Social Development and Larne Community Safety Partnership. PAL provides support, guidance and advice to anyone in the Larne Borough who is affected by substance misuse and addiction.