SWORDS YOUTH Service and the local community Garda unit have completed the third year of a programme educating local youths on the dangers of alcohol abuse and knife crime.
This is the 3rd year that Swords/Baldoyle Youth Service and local community Gardai have come together to run the alcohol misuse and knife crime programme. The idea for this programme originally came from Sgt. Kevin Toner from Swords station. Because of an increase in knife crimes the gardaí had devised this programme called 'How Big Do You Feel'.
Ger Robertson from Swords/Baldoyle Youth Service said: ' The programme was to be delivered to young people by gardaí in a school setting. However, we adapted it and decided to run it over two days in the Youth Service and to link it in with an alcohol and drug misuse programme we had developed.' Ger added: 'A group of eight local young people came together for two evenings to partake in this programme. The programme was delivered by Kevin Toner and the other local community gardai plus myself.
'The other aim of this programme was to break down barriers and challenge attitudes between the young people and the gardaí, therefore, creating an opportunity to build up positive, sustainable relationships between the young people and the gardaí.' On the first evening, the programme looked at the effects knife crime has on individual's lives, families and on a community, the reasons young people carry knives or other dangerous weapons and the consequences for them if they are found to have one in their possession.
On the second evening, the course took a look at alcohol and drug misuse, but mainly the focus was on alcohol. Ger explained: 'As we are aware, a high percentage of our young people experiment with alcohol at a young age, so this part of the programme looks at the effects of alcohol on a young person, both from a physical and mental health view point. 'We discuss family and societies attitude to alcohol.
How acceptable it is for 15, 16, and 17 year olds to drink to get dunk at weekends and the consequences at that on their behaviour and how that can bring them into contact with the gardaí and how it may lower their inhibitions and cause them to become involved in anti-social and/or risky behaviour. 'Following evaluation each evening of the programme, the young people said that they welcomed and enjoyed the informal atmosphere with the gardai where they were able to openly and honestly discuss issues relevant to their lives and hear from the gardai the reasons the laws were there and how they had to enforce them.' Last week the community gardai, the group of participating young people and the new Superintendent for the area, Ronan Galligan, came together in Swords/Baldoyle Youth Service to present certificates to all the young people involved in this programme.