Major award for the Rush project

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The innovative Rush programme, run by the Education team for the Seized! Revenue and Customs uncovered gallery at Merseyside Maritime Museum, has been recognised with a prestigious award at the Kids Count Inspiration Awards 2010. Rush won the UK’s Best Contribution by a Community Group Award. Last week museum staff were presented with the award at a House of Commons ceremony attended by leading politicians and sporting celebrities including Olympic Gold Medalist Linford Christie.

Rush has been developed in response to concerns from teachers and youth leaders about the growing impact of drugs misuse on young Merseyside people and their families. Young people observe a commissioned theatre piece presenting an account of a girl who faces choices relating to experimenting with ecstasy and are then given the opportunity to question characters in the play which opens up discussions around the topic of drug use and its consequences.

A simulated drugs box is used to raise awareness of what different drugs looks like and their likely effects, while 'booze goggles' illustrate the effect of alcohol on perception and decision making. 

Since it was launched 15 years ago almost 30,000 young people have taken part in Rush, including groups from Merseyside schools and organisations working with hard to reach young people such as Progress Sports and Shaw Trust.

Linford Christie said: “It’s an honour to be part of such a great initiative. All of the winners this evening are champions in their own right and Rush is an inspiration to others, both young and old.”

Kids Count Chairman, Richard Stephenson, said: “The judges were all incredibly impressed with the nomination we received for Rush.  We know how important it is for young people to be educated about drugs and the dangers they pose. Working with young people from across Merseyside, Rush has helped thousands to understand more about drugs and given them the confidence to make their own choices and to avoid peer pressure and bad decisions when it comes to drug use.  We are delighted to name them the winners."

The Kids Count Inspiration Awards recognises those individuals, young and old, and organisations that have been responsible for inspiring young people in their communities. A record number of nominations were received this year for individuals and groups who are addressing issues that affect the lives of children by creating initiatives that are grounded in practicality and realism, make a positive difference, and afford greater freedom to young people to determine their own futures.

Lead image: Museum staff met Linford Christie at the ceremony