“He came across well about how serious it was but he was also funny. That helped us all listen,” 15-year-old Lawrence Area School pupil Jenaya Thompson said.
She and her classmates had just listened to Pat Buckley give a talk about the importance of making the right decisions in life.
Mr Buckley gave a confronting account of the effects of drugs, alcohol and other bad decisions on his own life.
He runs an organisation called Amped 4 Life, whose mission statement is to “educate, equip and empower young people with the tools and skills they need to make healthy and informed choices for life”.
On a speaking tour of the district for the Clutha District Council-organised Methamphetamine Awareness Week, Mr Buckley visited schools and community groups for the duration of the week to spread his message.
“My goal is to keep them engaged for 45 minutes, and I think I’ve achieved that,” Mr Buckley said.
He did that by using some humour but the message remained hard hitting – drugs and alcohol can ruin your life.
“I’ve had to bury 62 of my friends over the years, and many of them were drug and alcohol related,” he said.
The messages hit home for Regen Potter (15), who said it would make him think more carefully about his future decisions.
“It’s good to go out and have fun with your friends, but you need to look after yourself as well,” he said.
Lawrence Area School teacher John Auld said Mr Buckley’s talk had just the right amount of humour, along with sound advice.
“If it’s always just ‘message, message, message’ it doesn’t get through to these kids.”
The Methamphetamine Awareness Week campaign sprang from a one-day event held earlier in the year, organised by the Clutha District Youth Council and council community development adviser Jean Proctor.
Mrs Proctor was pleased with the series of talks went.
“Pat is an exceptional speaker, who delivers an honest, factual presentation about his journey. He talks about the importance of making good choices in life, the devastating outcomes of using drugs and how split-second bad choices can have terrible consequences.”
Most importantly, the talks provided an opportunity “to connect around an issue that impacts on our community”.