National youth week is a celebration of Australia’s youth that takes place annually from the 8th – 17th April. It provides a platform through which individuals can share their opinion on a variety of topics that affect them, and come up with new ideas and express their own views on these issues. The health of young people is an important topic covered by the National Youth Week, and Life Education is committed to joining the discussion surrounding the various health issues affecting our country’s youth.
I still remember clearly the Life Education program from my years at primary school, where the Educator and Healthy Harold would come to visit and talk about a lot of different health issues. The one topic that stuck with me most was the safe use of alcohol, particularly surrounding underage drinking. The most commonly used recreational drug in Australia, people drink for a lot of different reasons; social occasions, celebrations, even just to relax. There is nothing wrong with the consumption of alcohol in moderation, but there are a number of different ways in which drinking can have adverse affects. It is crucial to recognise the negative consequences of unsafe alcohol consumption, and the ways in which to drink safely and responsibly.
As I began to take playing football more seriously, a lot of my friends started to drink. Peer pressure always played a part during parties where I was offered alcohol, particularly when I was underage. The Life Education Program had made me aware of the adverse affects of alcohol, and it was because of this education I was able to make an informed decision and decline. I had decided at the time that I wanted to commit to playing football at the highest level I could. I understood that in order to do so, I would need to be as healthy as possible to give myself every chance of succeeding.
There are reasons that the legal drinking age is 18, and I remember not wanting to risk damaging my football career for a few beers. Football isn’t the only reason to not partake in underage drinking, but it was just one particular reason that personally related to me. The effects of the consumption of alcohol are clear, especially for underage people, and it is important to consider the damage that it can do.
"I remember not wanting to risk damaging my football career for a few beers."
The Life Education program didn’t just tell me not do drink alcohol, it provided me with the necessary information to make an informed decision about my own health. I felt empowered, and this meant that I was making my own choices for reasons that I understood. This is where the importance of National Youth Week lies, in its ability to facilitate a discussion surrounding health issues. Young people are given an opportunity to express their own views and act on the issues that affect them, which creates an empowered environment that informs people to make safer and healthier choices.
To get involved in National Youth Week, visit: http://www.youthweek.nsw.gov.au/
Life Education Alcohol information module: http://www.lifeeducation.org.au/parents/modules/item/555-introducing-think-twice
Author: Dylan Whitlock
Dylan is a 21 year old media/writing student in his final year of study at Macquarie University. He plays in the NSW Premier League for Manly United FC, and is currently writing a fiction novel. Dylan lives in Sydney, NSW.