16 March 2011
Powerful anti-drugs play Wings to Fly is celebrating its fifteenth anniversary.
Performed for 35,000 Year 6 school children aged 10 and 11 since its start, the play has achieved huge success and is a key tool in the borough's commitment to educating young people about substance misuse.
With around 2,500 pupils attending the week-long schedule at Blackwood Miner's Institute every March, the play tackles the real consequences of substance misuse through the story of 14-year-old Penguin who succumbs to peer pressure and experiments with drugs.
Written by Margaret Rooney, a former Arts Development Officer for Caerphilly County Borough Council, it has been supported by Blackwood Crime Prevention Panel, Caerphilly County Borough Council and Gwent Police since its beginnings, and this year is funded through the Safer Caerphilly Community Safety Partnership Substance Misuse Action Plan.
Assistant Community Safety Officer Lynn Jones who has coordinated Wings to Fly for the past nine years said: "Wings to Fly has a very positive impact on the young people who come to see it before they make the step to comprehensive school, preparing them any problems which may arise in their future.
"As a production it really holds the children's attention and if we can make a difference for one child then we will have been successful."
The play, which has been taken up by other authorities and police forces across Wales, is designed to be performed by young people for young people and is being staged by a cast from Caerphilly Youth Theatre under the direction of Tony Gallagher and assistant director Rebecca Millett.
Welsh Medium Performances are being performed by Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni Drama Students under the direction of Catrin Jen Roberts.
To enforce the Wings to Fly message Gwent Police school liaison officers visit all schools to hold follow up workshops, using an All-Wales schools programme to tackle the issues raised by the production.
Caerphilly Local Policing Unit Partnership Inspector Alan Webber said: "The fact that the play has run for 15 years highlights its success in delivering an important message to our young people in the community.
"The follow-up work by Police Schools Liaison Officers in schools re-enforces this message. There are many people behind the scenes that work hard to support this event, in particular, the volunteers of Blackwood Crime Prevention Panel who have worked tirelessly over many years in their support of this hard-hitting play." Blackwood Crime Prevention Panel were instrumental in developing the production and say they look forward to Wings to Fly educating audiences for another fifteen years and beyond.
Chairman Tony Curtis MBE, said: "Wings to Fly is such an integral part of educating our young people.
"It gives a clear and simple message to children when they are at a vulnerable and impressionable time in life, educating them about the dangers of drugs and giving them the confidence to say no.
"As a production it has definitely stood the test of time and I look forward to seeing it continue".
Cllr Rob Gough, Cabinet Member for Public Protection at Caerphilly County Borough Council added: "Since it began 15 years ago, almost an entire generation of young people have benefited from seeing a performance of Wings to Fly.
"What is especially pleasing is that the issues tackled in Wings to Fly also act as the basis for school lessons when the children return to their classrooms, which helps to further engage with young people on the very harmful effects of drug and other substance misuse."
This year's performances of Wings to Fly will once again be held at Blackwood Miner's Institute.
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