Guinness Nigeria’s Under-Age Drinking Campaign Impacts Over 5,000 Students
In further demonstration of its commitment to the responsible use of alcohol in the society, 28 schools in Lagos, Nigeria, have benefited from an innovative corporate social responsibility project by Guinness Nigeria Plc tagged SMASHED.
The SMASHED Project is a live theatre/drama performance delivered to 14 – 17 year olds (SS1 – SS3 students) in government and private schools across Lagos State by professional actors, along with follow-up interactive workshops. The initiative took into consideration the Nigerian culture by engaging young people in a safe and motivational learning environment, enabling them to understand the consequences of underage and binge drinking.
Speaking at the event, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Guinness Nigeria Plc, Mr. Peter Ndegwa, stated that the company’s Underage Alcohol Education programme is aimed at reducing the incidence of alcohol related harm amongst young people. “Between the ages of 14 and 17, young people are most vulnerable to different societal burdens such as peer pressure and the need to fit in; this sometimes causes them to make uninformed decisions ,” Ndegwa said.
According to him, schools are an important setting for interventions aimed at shaping behavior among youths because no other community institution has as much continuous and intensive contact with young people. “And this is why Guinness Nigeria decided to implement the SMASHED programme in 28 government and private schools across Lagos state,” Mr. Ndegwa reiterated.
He added: “In every country, Diageo works with reputable local organizations to deliver the SMASHED programme as our Diageo Marketing Code restricts us from engaging with persons under the legal purchase age of 18+. As a result, Guinness Nigeria did not interface directly with any of the schools during the implementation of the SMASHED programme as we partnered with Collingwood Learning and Rue 14 Studios in Nigeria to deliver the programme.”
Sharing global success stories from the SMASHED Project, Managing Director, Collingwood Learning, United Kingdom, Mr. Chris Simes, noted that SMASHED, an award-winning theatre and education initiative, was launched in the UK more than a decade ago. “It has now been delivered in 10 countries around the world, including Mozambique. The result of the programme in other countries has been incredibly encouraging and we have received very good reviews from both students and teachers. Building on this success, the SMASHED Project was rolled out in Nigeria and reached over 5,000 young people and teachers in classes SS1 – SS3 in 28 public and private schools across Lagos State,” Mr. Simes said.
On her part, local implementing partner and Founder/Artistic Director, Rue 14 Studios, Keke Hammond, commended Guinness Nigeria for delivering such a unique initiative, which was at no cost to schools across Lagos during the 3-week tour of the pilot programme.
“At the end of this first phase, 80% of the students that watched the performance and workshop said that they won’t drink alcohol underage, over 94% of the students said that they really enjoyed the programme. Also, 85% of the teachers think that students who watched the performance understood more about the dangers of underage drinking than they did before the performance, while 95% of the teachers feel that the performance explored pertinent and relevant issues for children between the ages of 14-17. 91% stated that they would like the program to return to their schools next year,” she stated.
Corporate Relations Director, Guinness Nigeria Plc, Mrs. Viola Graham-Douglas, said: “The SMASHED Project is dedicated to breaking the culture of underage drinking around the world. Through creative education, we can equip young people with the information, awareness, and confidence to make responsible choices around alcohol.”
According to Mrs. Graham-Douglas, the SMASHED project engages young people in a unique way, allowing them to explore the causes and consequences of underage drinking in a safe and motivational learning environment. This involved the use of emotive theatre, interactive workshops, and interactive teaching resources all backed up with robust evaluation, with fantastic results. “The program does not include any reference to Diageo or any Diageo brand positioning materials or adverts in the schools visited,” Mrs. Graham-Douglas added.
Diageo is dedicated to preventing underage drinking around the world and has been a proud sponsor of ‘SMASHED’ since its birth in 2005. The company’s Alcohol in Society agenda is an important part of its journey towards being the most trusted and respected company and over the years. Guinness Nigeria has continued to help tackle alcohol related harm through various programmes that address underage drinking, drink driving and excessive drinking. This is a responsibility the company takes very seriously, Graham-Douglas concluded.