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Fight against drugs goes into the nursery

Pre-five children are to be targeted for the first time by Scotland Against Drugs, through a radical new initiative.

West Dunbartonshire has become the first authority in Scotland - and perhaps the UK - to be involved in such a venture. Nursery schools will be visited by Paisley-based Pace, one of the UK's largest theatre-in-education and youth companies.

Pace is producing an interactive DVD which features an animated character to guide youngsters through a series of stories and adventures, introducing them to the dangers of drugs and of accepting or taking anything about which they are unsure.

Angela Simms, quality improvement officer within West Dunbartonshire's education and cultural services department, said the pre-five drugs education would form part of its work on health promoting schools.

Working with primary and secondary pupils had proved highly effective and been well received by staff, pupils and parents, she said.

"We have decided to offer these workshops to pre-five pupils not because we felt these pupils were particularly at risk but because it was a natural progression. We are well on target for pupils from P1 to S6 but we believe that as part of our community living and development policy all pupils have a right to make choices.

"This will be offered in the context of personal safety decision-making - looking after yourself and things not to touch that you see in the playground."

From next session, Pace will tour all pre-five establishments in West Dunbartonshire to show the DVD to more than 3,000 children and run participatory workshops.

Alistair Ramsay, director of Scotland Against Drugs, said: "It is to be hoped that this kind of approach will help to develop a built-in resistance to dealers in the long term. It's about keeping safe."

Judith Gillespie, development manager with the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, said: "The main thing for pre-five children is to tell the difference between medicines and sweets and that not everything round and red is a Smartie.

"It would be better just to do the difference between medicines and sweets rather than looking at the difference between one medicine and another type of medicine."

Scotland Plus 2-3

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