Young people shoot film to address local drugs issues

Participants in the joint Ballymagroarty Hazelbank Community Partnership / Divert  Drugs and Alcohol Project at the Ballymagrorarty Community Centre. Back (from left) are Kwa Daniels, Alessio Zanin, Michael McCarron, John Devine, Cealb White and Caitlin McCann. Front (from left) are Keelan McCole, Ann Marie McCourt, the Mayor of Derry and Strabane Councillor Elisha McCallion, Mollie Gallagher and Dillon Harkin. DERR3615GS060
Participants in the joint Ballymagroarty Hazelbank Community Partnership / Divert Drugs and Alcohol Project at the Ballymagrorarty Community Centre. Back (from left) are Kwa Daniels, Alessio Zanin, Michael McCarron, John Devine, Cealb White and Caitlin McCann. Front (from left) are Keelan McCole, Ann Marie McCourt, the Mayor of Derry and Strabane Councillor Elisha McCallion, Mollie Gallagher and Dillon Harkin. DERR3615GS060
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Young people from Ballymagroarty and Hazelbank have made a short film aimed at helping teenagers deal with the common issue of legal and illegal highs.

The initiative was led by Ballymagroarty and Hazelbank Community Partnership (BHCP) and Dove House Community Trust group, Divert and was funded by the Big Lottery Fund Awards for All.

“It’s easy for young people my age to get their hands on illegal highs never mind legal ones,” said 15 year-old Caitlin McCann.

“it’s different for young people growing up today because drugs, both legal and illegal, are seen in a different light to how they were perceived 10 and 20 years ago,” she added.

Caitlin and almost 20 of her peers took part in the 10 week project and at the end, seven young people were selected to work with Derry based organisation, Bounce, to make the DVD.

The film, which was directed and filmed by Alessio Zanin, was turned into a DVD and it will be available to other community groups and schools interested in finding out more about how young people perceive legal and illegal highs.

“The whole point of the film was to show young people that if they find themselves in a situation involving legal or illegal highs they should be able to say no,” said BHCP Youth Co-ordinator, John Devine.

“The young people came up with the idea of using a fictional story, which is probably played out more often than not in Derry. The story was about a young boy and girl who are offered the chance to take drugs. The young boy doesn’t want to but the girl does. The message is quite strong and convincing,” he added.

Fifteen year-old Mollie Gallagher was also one of the young people who helped create the film.

Mollie said that the issue of legal highs in Derry was only the tip of the iceberg.

“I’ve never touched a drink in my life and I won’t until I am over 18 years-old but when I go up the town with my friends at the weekends I am shocked at what I see.

“It’s pretty common to see young boys and girls aged 13 drunk or taking something.

“I think it’s important that young people were behind this film because the message we are trying to get across is aimed at people the same age as ourselves,” she added.

Director, Alessio Zanin, said he was delighted with the way the film turned out and added that the young people were great to work with.

“Young people in Derry have so much to offer - but it’s up to us, the adults, to give them what it is they need to make something of their lives. The group who helped to make this film were excellent and I think they should be very proud of themselves.”

For more information on the short film contact BHCP on 028 7127 1977.