QMYOU Alumni Magazine Issue 75 - Page 6

The AlcoLoLs engage with Parliament “ has The not AlcoLoLs is an extremely well conceived idea which only produced an extremely positive response from the young people involved, but which is now clearly capturing the attention of MSPs and other government officials. ” T HE WORK OF A GROUP OF SCHOOL PUPILS called ‘The AlcoLoLs’, at QMU’s Centre for Dialogue, was celebrated at a reception in the Scottish Parliament in March. The pupils from Portobello High School have been working with academics from QMU’s Centre for Dialogue to develop a new approach to learning and communicating about alcohol. The team was able to present information about the project at the Parliamentary event hosted by Kenny MacAskill MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Justice, and attended by parents, police, government officials, representatives from alcohol charities and other stakeholders. The AlcoLoLs group developed from a Portobello High School project called ‘Peer Learning Through Dialogue: Young People and Alcohol’ and has been led by staff of QMU’s Centre for Dialogue. The project utilised a state-of-the-art engagement format to tap into young people’s knowledge, experiences and needs so that they could ‘co-design’ their own learning. Emma Wood from QMU’s Centre for Dialogue outlines the project at the Scottish Parliament it become clear that participants were shrewd observers of the inconsistencies of the world around them where alcohol is simultaneously glorified and vilified; friends looked out for one another in situations where alcohol could be a danger, and participants knew what would make a difference for them. The ideas generated by the group are now being developed into a school-wide project led by participants of the dialogue group. QMU lecturers, Magda Pieczka and Emma Wood, who developed and ran the project in 2010, are now supporting Portobello High School pupils in developing their own engagement and learning project about alcohol. Professor Petra Wend, Principal at QMU said: “The reception at Parliament was a great occasion. The AlcoLoLs is an extremely well conceived idea which has not only produced an extremely positive response from the young people involved, but which is now clearly capturing the attention of MSPs and other government officials. It is great to see the talents of young people being harnessed in this way. We are now hoping to secure funding which will allow this innovative learning project to be rolled out to more schools across Scotland.” Find out more about QMU Centre For Dialogue and the AlcoLoLs project at: www.qmu.ac.uk/mcpa/CDial/AlcoLols.htm. The starting point was to assume that any peer group of young people could generate a high level of relevant knowledge and develop sensible coping strategies to suit different personal journeys through adolescence and alcohol. The team spent four months working with volunteers in a series of dialogue and deliberation meetings. Once the group had developed trust and confidence, 6 QMYOU / Creativity & Culture Students from Portobello High School take part in the Scottish Parlament reception