Saturday, 26 September 2015

'Designated Paul Dillons': The ultimate compliment from a teenager!

If I ever wondered whether the young people I talk to are listening and actually use the information I present, an email I recently received from a young woman clearly shows that some certainly are. What she shared with me about a strategy that she and her friends (now at university) use to keep safe when they party I believe is the ultimate compliment from a teenager.

Here is an edited version of her email (which I did ask her permission to use):

My friends and I first heard you speak at our school in Adelaide in 2009 when we were in Year 10. Our whole year level loved your talk and over the next couple of years your presentations became the highlight of our year - we would all look so forward to hearing what you were going to say next. We weren't really party girls when we saw you in Year 10 but by Year 11 we were going out almost every weekend and it was then that we created what we called the 'Designated Paul Dillon'. This was the person who's job it was for the night to look after everyone else and make sure everybody was safe. They were not allowed to drink and it was their job to do the 'chair test', make sure no-one fed drunk people bread and give the right amount of water to drunk people. You cannot know how many times we were at a party over the final years of high school when someone got sick and everyone looked at each other and would say "What would Paul Dillon do?"

My friends and I are all at uni now and we still make sure we have a 'Designated Paul Dillon' when we go out partying or clubbing - we most probably need one now more than in the past. Your influence is pretty big in Adelaide - over the last couple of years at uni there have been a number of times when we would be at a party and there would people we don't know there and when someone got sick you would hear either "We had this guy come to our school, get a chair and we'll give them the 'chair test'!" or "Paul Dillon said that we need to ..."  

All of us want to say 'thank you' and keep doing what you do. We've all been the 'Designated Paul Dillon' at one time or another over the years and I'm sure we've all saved a life at least once.

If you're confused as to what the 'chair test' actually is, you can go to one of my posts on my blog for young people - 'The Real Deal on Drugs' and see what I tell young people to do if they have to look after a drunk friend when I present at schools and how to know when they have to call an ambulance.

When I get emails like this the only person I ever show them to is my mother! I don't show them to her to brag or to say 'look how amazing people think I am', it's just that I'm so overwhelmed by the fact that someone would actually take the time to 'put pen to paper' and say such lovely things, I need to show them to someone else and say simply 'can you believe this?'

There are a couple of wonderful things about what this young woman has written ... Firstly, she and her friends took the information I provided to them in my presentation and were able to find a way to use it in a practical way that worked for them (it could be my ego speaking here but I love the concept of a 'Designated Paul Dillon'!). It's all well and good giving quality information to young people but can they use it in their day-to-day lives and do they want to? Secondly, the information has been useful over time and she and her friends have been able to adapt it to suit their needs now that they are adults and no longer at school. This is certainly not the first time I have heard of students using the information I presented and finding it even more useful years later when they left school, particularly in the university context, but it is exciting to hear of an actual safety strategy named after me that has been adapted for uni life!

I really do believe that in the health and well-being area (and particularly in alcohol and other drugs) if you provide young people with information that they want to know, not what we believe they need to know, you make it as practical as possible (something they can actually use), they will embrace it, adapt it to their own needs and then use it ... that's the way we keep our kids as safe as possible!

No comments:

Post a Comment