With the number of young Australians addicted to ice increasing rapidly, a Gold Coast not-for-profit organisation has launched a high school education workshop program to reduce the rising incidence of ice usage on the Gold Coast and Australia-wide.
Founded by Andrea Simmons after recovering from a two year ice addiction, the Australian Anti Ice Campaign (AAIC), has been working in conjunction with USA organisation ‘Partnership for Drug Free Kids’ and Rotary International to develop an In-School education Workshop Program to take to school kids across the country.
The AAIC program is modeled on the proven ‘Meth Project’ which has been successfully implemented across eight US states, reducing ice use significantly in these communities.
Ms Simmons today officially unveiled the program which has been redeveloped for Australian culture and implemented with some Queensland high school students and children in the Queensland Youth Justice System over the past year. The program is now being rolled out in high schools across the Gold Coast.
Ms Simmons acknowledged the incredible support the AAIC has received and is still receiving from Rotary International and the Salvation Army.
She said the key to the effectiveness of the school education program was employing and training people like herself who had recovered from ice addiction, to share their experiences and equip young people with the information they need to avoid a similar fate.
“In the process, we give our presenters the chance to make something positive from their former addiction and give something back to prevent others from going through what they went through,” said Ms Simmons.
“It is a powerful message coming from someone who can honestly and graphically relay the harsh reality of ice addition to the students.
“We will teach kids about the short and long term effects of ice on the brain, body, relationships and community, the dangers and toxicity of its ingredients and the risks of trying ice even once.
“Students also learn how to communicate the risks of ice use to their peers and how to take action to prevent use.”
Former State of Origin legend-turned-AACI public ambassador, Kevin Campion and other AAIC Rugby League Ambassadors will be conducting lunch-time sports activities as part of the In-School Education Workshop Program, which will also feature performances by a Vibe Events/AAIC youth band.
The sports and musical components are designed to make the day memorable for the students and to promote the benefits of setting goals and making ‘positive choices’ in abstaining from taking drugs, in particular ice, with “not even once” as the key message.
Campion said he jumped at the opportunity to help AAIC in their mission to educate teenagers about the dangers of ice.
“I know what using this drug can do to a person’s mental and physical health in a very short space of time and also that using ice can lead to a person taking their own life,” he said.
“I am aware of the devastating effect that ice is having in many areas, particularly rural towns where some rugby league clubs have implemented a drug testing program due to the severity of the problem”.
The AAIC is in the process of making applications to the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments for a national roll-out of the In-School Education Workshop Program commencing in the first term of 2017. In the meantime, the AAIC is seeking the support of members of the Gold Coast business and general community to fund the first phase of the program’s implementation in all Gold Coast high schools this year.
The AAIC’s costs of putting one child through the In-School Education Workshop Program is just under $10. The AAIC has launched its Gold Coast High Schools’ Foundation Sponsors Package which allows any business or individual to support the cause by contributing as little as $10 to sponsor one child, or by sponsoring a number of children.
“We are desperate to get our program in front of all Gold Coast teenagers to give them a defense, in the form of knowledge, against this devastating drug”, Ms. Simmons said.
“Gold Coast business owner Jamie Pickering has generously contributed $22,800 to fund the participation of the first 60 children in each of the 38 high schools on the Gold Coast, but we also have individuals and businesses who have donated $10 to sponsor one child – and we are so grateful for that because every little bit helps.”
Kevin Campion’s company, Identified Services is also an AAIC Sponsor.
“I certainly encourage all Gold Coast businesses and residents to dig deep and get behind this cause,” Campion said.
“Ice is rife on the Gold Coast and our kids are being targeted relentlessly by people pushing this insidious drug. All contributions and all support is greatly appreciated. If you only sponsor one child, you may well be saving a child and that child’s family from the devastating effects of ice addiction.”
To become a Gold Coast High Schools’ Foundation Sponsor, visit australianantiicecampaign.org.au, click on the link and complete the online form.