August 30, 2022

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Teaching about underage drinking through theater

THE PROBLEM of underaged drinking is being tackled through theater, workshops, online promos and games, and essay-writing and video-making competitions in the second edition of Smashed, a program that aims to educate the youth and change attitudes on underage drinking.

Smashed is a global alcohol education and attitudinal change program delivered in the Philippines by the PETA-Plus Program, an adjunct business expansion unit of the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA).

Originally developed by Collingwood Learning in the United Kingdom in 2009, Smashed is supported by the beverage company Diageo. It employs a theater-based learning approach to teach about the harm and consequences of underage drinking, starting with an interactive drama that follows the lives of three young people and how underage drinking affects their lives. Workshops are then conducted to help viewers understand the facts, causes, and consequences of underage drinking.

“Because young people identify with the characters and the storyline, it’s like turning a mirror on those young people and their own lives. So, what they are able to do is think about the decision of those characters in that storyline,” Chris Simes, Managing Director of Collingwood Learning, said in an online press launch on Aug. 19.

“Our big focus is around choices, decision-making, information, and personal responsibility,” he said. Students are guided in workshops on how to make independent choices around alcohol. “What we are trying to do is give young people a rehearsal for real life. So that when real life happens, they can make the right choices to keep themselves safe, to keep their friends safe, and keep their future safe,” said Mr. Simes.

The international program has reached over 1 million young people in 30 countries.

SMASHED PHILIPPINES
The Philippine project began in September 2021 and was delivered online through a website (online.smashedproject.org). The primary target for the Philippine project is Filipino teenagers and is geared toward “harnessing critical thinking through informed choices.”

“This is a real change from the usual approach to alcohol education in schools and one that makes the risks of underage drinking impossible to forget. We understand that because of the pandemic, both teachers and students are still adjusting to the current normal. But we want to help carry the learning forward by providing high-quality teaching resources for use, despite the pandemic,” Mr. Simes said in a statement.

Last year, the program started in cities in the National Capital Region (NCR), such as Manila, Quezon City, and Pasig City. Smashed PH has been collaborating with the Department of Education – Youth Formation Division in the hopes of expanding into other cities across the country. The initial rollout was able to reach 120 schools or approximately 18,000 students and 675 educators. The program ran with an impact report showing that 93% of young people who participated confirmed attitudinal change.

Smashed Philippines has worked with consultants from the Education department in creating a curriculum map where Smashed may be integrated as Grades 5 to 12 have an existing alcohol education component in their curriculums.

As Smashed Philippines has been working with PETA-Plus, the expertise in arts and theater education of its educators and facilitators is shared through activities and programs such as a songwriting workshop, competitions, and teachers’ creative module.

“It was a very interactive learning platform that allows us to reflect on the social and emotional causes of underage drinking and its impact on our lives when exposed early on,” Grade 11 student Berna Joy Corpuz from Anao High School in Tarlac City said of the program in a statement. “It provides us a safe space and cultivates a culture of support system for young people like us to make an empowered choice that will benefit our future.”

THE SECOND EDITION
This year, Smashed Philippines’ programming will be held online and with live performance.

“As someone in the arts and creative industry, I believe that this project is not only a big step in advocating for alcohol education and youth empowerment but also in promoting applied theater and drama-in-education as effective teaching tools in the Philippines. It is great to be part of this global initiative,” theater actress and Smashed Philippines Project Head Gold Villar-Lim said.

Smashed Online uses an interactive drama following three friends Jella, Miko, and PJ who struggle with alcohol misuse and consequences of underage drinking. The characters are played by Gillian Vicencio, Carlos Dala, and Luis Ruiz respectively.

The Smashed team will be hopping from school to school to conduct the website workshops face-to-face for NCR schools and online for areas outside the NCR. This will be followed by a webinar series on alcohol education for teachers and young people which will happen in September and December this year, and in February 2023. Four partner schools will also participate in a live theater-in-education performance of Smashed – Prevention of Underage Drinking.

Smashed Philippines will implement online website sessions, assemblies, alignment meetings for coordinators, and a year-end evaluation to strengthen partnerships with existing networks and engage with more institutions. Online promos and mini-games will be launched on digital platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. An online essay-writing and video-making competition for young people will be launched next year.

The Philippines’ Smashed live component will focus on prevention that will be framed as a workshop for 40 to 50 students, starting at PETA-Plus’ four partner schools.

The team is currently working on partnerships with the Department of Education’s Youth Information Division and its Schools Division Offices in Manila, San Juan, Caloocan, Makati, and Quezon City.

From 17,700 young people, Smashed Philippines aims to educate 40,000 students in its second year.

For inquiries on the Smashed PH program, visit www.facebook.com/PETAPlus/, send an e-mail to smashedprojectph@smashedph.com, or contact Julia at 0999-995-7962. To explore the project online, visit https://online.smashedproject.org/. — MAPS