Alexandra Hills graduates return to mentor Indigenous students during Deadly Choices program

DEADLY CHOICES: Grayson Morgan and Kellie McDonald.
DEADLY CHOICES: Grayson Morgan and Kellie McDonald.

TWO Alexandra Hills State High School graduates have returned to their old stomping ground to empower a new generation of Indigenous students to live healthily.

Eighteen year seven students are learning about healthy living during the Deadly Choices program, introduced to the school this term.

The program is run by Grayson Morgan of Deadly Choices and AHSHS Indigenous co-ordinator Kellie McDonald, both former students of the school.

During term one, Mr Morgan is delivering the Deadly Choices tobacco cessation program, which consists of six sessions educating students on the impacts of smoking, ingredients of tobacco, addiction, passive smoking and quit resources.

Miss McDonald said the program aimed to break the cycle of unhealthy habits students may have been exposed to.

"When students were asked by Grayson at the beginning of the workshops if smoking was common amongst their families nearly every student answered yes," she said.

"(This) reinforces the importance of having these informative workshops being delivered to Indigenous youth so they can make healthy choices while growing up."

Mr Morgan said the program was more often offered to primary school students but it was also important for older students to be reminded of Deadly Choices' messages.

"(Year seven students) are the newest to the school so they're going to be exposed to a lot more mature things," he said. 

Miss McDonald said the school's Indigenous population had grown significantly since her time as a student and there was now a greater need for a support network for these students.

"When I was a student myself, you never heard about kids' home lives unless you were close friends with them," she said.

"Now as a teacher, you hear all about their upbringing, their lifestyle, any troubles at home.

"It makes you want to support them and help them to want to come to school."

As the school's Indigenous co-ordinator, Miss McDonald said she was glad to be able to dedicate time and effort to programs such as Deadly Choices.

"We want to educate students about our culture and keep it alive," she said.

"A lot of kids shy away from (identifying as Indigenous) because of negative stereotypes."

"We're hoping kids will have a sense of pride to identify as Indigenous.

"It's also great for them to get to know other Indigenous kids in their year level and form a community."

Mr Morgan said it was beneficial for students to have both male and female Indigenous role models to look up to, especially those that had been in similar positions.

"I'm not just reading off the program, I'm able to give them my personal experience," he said.

"It helps if the kids can actually see they can have two options. 

"They can either let life take them the way it wants or they can go against it and turn something from bad to really good."