Wisdom of Life

Peer Education Drugs Awareness Project

There are many aspects to the Ballyfermot Youth Service Peer Education programme which has been going from strength to strength over the past 10 year’s and has been a model for other projects at both local and national level.

The developments and the expansion of the programme, has helped to improve understanding and given visual representation to support the peer education programme An increasing number of schools in the Ballyfermot area are partaking in the programme, due to the successes of previous years. 

Outline of Peer Education/Drug Awareness/Leadership Programme

Peer Education rests on the view that young people learn a lot from one another as part of their everyday lives and that peer groups play an important part in defining and maintaining an individual’s identity. Peer Education seeks to institutionalise what is seen as a naturally occurring process within a young person’s life. The method of Peer education has been very successful over the last number of years, as a particularly effective approach to drug prevention.

The programme aims to draw on an approach which empowers young people to work with other young people and which draws on the positive strength of the peer group. By means of appropriate training and support the young people become active players in the educational process.

The difference between peer education and other educational activity:
Education is essentially a one-stage process:
Teacher —————Learner
(Generally an adult) (Generally young person)

Effective educational methodologies encourage a reciprocity and mutuality, with both the teacher and the learner gaining from the process.
Peer education however is a two stage process, with the learner taking on the role of the teacher.
Stage 1: ADULT ———Young Person
Stage 2: Young Person ———–Young Person

Peer education in Primary Schools:

The Peer Educators deliver a 6 week structured Drug Awareness & Peer Education Programme which is aimed at 5th & 6th class students in primary schools and has been designed by young people in the Ballyfermot area. Each weekly session lasts for an hour and is delivered through informal education, which facilitates the students’ participation and learning.

Fun activities are used throughout to engage the students in the programme. Each session looks at different effects and consequences of drug misuse on the body. The aim of the programme is to inform young people around misconceptions around drug misuse that they may have.

Peer education in Secondary Schools:

Two peer education programmes are delivered and available to secondary schools in Ballyfermot. The Can U HAC It resources, was designed by young people in response to the lack of appropriate resources to deal with the issue of Hash Alcohol and Cocaine. The programme looks at issues around Hash, Alcohol and Cocaine use by young people.

The programme also helps young people to investigate and explore the many different effects that drug misuse can have on the individual, the family, the peers, the community and wider society. This programme runs for 6 weeks, with 6 individual sessions lasting an hour long.

A 10 week ‘peer education’ module is also carried out with Transition Year Students during the school term. The programme is divided into two sections with 4 weeks of Leadership & Facilitation training and 6 weeks of Drug Awareness. Throughout the programme the concept of peer education is explained by the facilitators and explored by the students.

The aim of the programme is to equip the students with the skills to facilitate a drug awareness programme within the school to 1st year students. The training will also be beneficial to students who wish to be prefects or mentors within there school. 

Innovative Resources & Campaigns

‘Stop b4 u Drop’

The Stop B4 U Drop campaign was launched on the 24th of November 2007 in the Hush nightclub at the Moran’s Red Cow Hotel & Conference Complex.. The concept and designs for the campaign came from young people participating in a leadership group at the BYS.

The campaign looks at the effects of alcohol use and the promotion of harm reduction strategies. Many workshops were carried out on the day so that the students could see the different effects that large amounts of alcohol can have on the body. One such workshop asked young people to complete an obstacle course while wearing beer goggles, simulating the effects of intoxication.

The campaign is aimed at Junior to Leaving Certificate students in Secondary Schools in the Ballyfermot area.
Be-Wiser” was the slogan used throughout the day. This conference was based on National good practice in relation to alcohol related harm issues e.g. the link between teen pregnancy and alcohol misuse, interactive workshops on getting home safe on a night out.

‘Can U HAC it’

This programme was launched on the 17th of January 2007 , The programme focuses on the effects of using Hash, Alcohol, Cocaine on young people and their lives. The programme is broken down into 6 sessions, with each session having its own aim. The overall objective of the programme is to broaden people’s knowledge about the effects that these drugs have on individuals, families, communities and society.

The programme is delivered through the concept of informal education and uses many different fun activities to engage the young people to participate. A resource pack was designed and produced to support the programme. Individual session topics are described in detail and also a scripted DVD was put together by the BYS Beyond’96 Club. The DVD assists in visualising the events and issues presented to young people around the use of hash, alcohol and cocaine.


‘Training for trainers’

Each year Ballyfermot Youth Service offer a training for trainers seminar based on the delivery of resources in the Can U HAC It? Pack. This training supports and enables other youth and community workers in the area to facilitate the programme with young people in there project. Last year the training was delivered twice in the year due to demand from projects, and will be offered on an ongoing basis as need arises.

Visual Evidence to support the programme.

Peer Education Video

In 2008, a peer education DVD was made. The DVD documents and showcases the various elements of the peer education programme, describing its powerful potential. The DVD includes interviews with the present and former peer education co-ordinators, peer educators and young people participating in the programme. The DVD gives a visual representation of the programme and includes testimonies from Frank Gilligan, the D.10 LTDF Co-ordinator.


Delivery Mechanism

1. Peer Education is a local initiative based on young people teaching young people about issues that are relevant to there own lives, this is what makes it unique and is the reason behind why is has been so successful. The programme is delivered through our organisation and the youth workers role is to train and support the young trainers.

2. Level of coverage: Currently we are working in three secondary schools

3. There are two staff involved in the peer education programme they are responsible for the training aspect and supporting the development of new resources.

4. The annual cost of the intervention is €92,000 of which €15,00 comes from the HSE

5. The principal funder is the LDTF currently funded through the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs

Peer Education

By means of appropriate training and support, the Peer Education & Drug Awareness Programme aims to empower young people to work with other young people.

This draws on the positive strength of the peer group and allows the young people to become active players in the educational process.

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For further information contact:
Paula Moore on 085 733 9110

Information Centres

BYS Information Centre
We are the first point of contact for many young people seeking information on a variety of issues.

We provide a free, confidential drop-in facility & free internet service with late night openings, 5 days a week.

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For further information contact:
Jodie Byrne on 01 623 7401

Oakwood Centre

BYS Information Centre
The Oakwood Residential Centre is based in Wicklow and is used throughout the year for programmes.

Oakwood's location is ideal for many activities & has many natural amenities such as lakes, forests, walking trails, kayaking activities and mountain biking trails.

For further information contact:
Jodie Byrne on 01 623 7401