Drug awareness through drama for Merton kids

Primary school children in Merton will benefit from an innovative drug awareness project when the Big Fish Theatre Company returns to Merton during July.

For the ninth year running, Merton Council’s Healthy Schools programme is bringing the theatre in education programme to the borough. The theatre company will visit nine schools across the borough from 7 to 18 July and will perform the production “Time and Place ” to over 500 Year 6s and their parents and carers. The production focuses on the risks of cigarettes, alcohol and cannabis as well as tackling issues like bullying, peer pressure and family breakdown.

Using physical theatre, story telling and live music the production challenges the audience to look at themselves and the choices they make. The interactive play will also involve the audience in a debate on issues like friendships and families, personal safety, peer pressure, smoking and alcohol abuse.

Merton Council has also subsidised training from the Big Fish Theatre Company for teachers and teaching assistants. The training will help schools deliver an effective drug education programme to 10 – 11 year olds. The training provides practical examples of lesson plans and active learning strategies and will also help to address barriers to teaching Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship Education lessons.

Artistic Director for the Big Fish Theatre Company said:
“Theatre is a means of engaging the imagination and value system of young people regardless of age, ethnicity, class, sexuality or ability. One of Big Fish’s objectives is to effectively use imagery, narrative and empathy to challenge and motivate young people to reflect upon their own value systems and their place within society. We have found that the more artistically powerful our theatre work is, the more successful it is in engaging young people and involving them in theatre.”

Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Councillor Debbie Shears said:
“It is really important that children learn about the risks of drug and alcohol use at a young age and are aware of the value of a healthy lifestyle. A child’s mental and emotional well-being contributes to their overall health and performance at school and it is initiatives like this that add so much value to the education available in Merton schools.”

Notes to editor:
· Pics of Big Fish’s production Time and Place are available on request.

· Big Fish Theatre Company produces high quality innovative theatre productions and drama experiences for young people in London. Through its activities, the company seeks to challenge social injustice and inspire personal and community growth and change. For more information go to http://www.bigfishtheatre.com

· The national healthy schools programme was launched in 2000 by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and the Department of Health (DH). The national healthy schools programme offers schools an opportunity to recognise and celebrate achievements in promoting the health and well-being of all members of the school community. Over 90% of all Merton schools are accredited healthy schools or are working towards healthy school status

· The Big Fish Theatre Company will be visiting the following primary schools:
1. Aragon Primary – Monday 7 July
2. Malmesbury – Monday 7 July
3. Gorringe Park – Tuesday 8 July
4. Wimbledon Chase – Tuesday 8 July
5. Liberty – Weds 9 July
6. St. Matthews – Thurs 10 July
7. Cranmer – Thurs 10 July
8. St. Thomas of Canterbury – Fri 11 July
9. Sherwood – Fri 11 July