Former drug users volunteer to talk to kids about their experiences.
Photo by Flickr user Amal FM.
A foundation set up in Amy Winehouse’s name is implementing a program that educates kids and teens on drug and alcohol addiction by sending former addicts to classrooms to talk about their experiences. The Amy Winehouse Foundation, which was founded by Winehouse’s parents, Mitch and Janis, partnered up with the U.K. organization Addaction to facilitate the new initiative, which will dispatch dozens of volunteers this year to reach a goal of 250,000 students throughout the country. Last year, the program received £4.3 million from the Big Lottery Fund to do its work. Dominic Ruffy, the Amy Winehouse Foundation’s program director, is a recovering addict himself and says that it is his experiences and the experiences of his peers that inform their approach to drug and alcohol abuse prevention.
“The consistent message they got from people in rehab was that they’d never had any constructive education in school about drugs and alcohol,” Ruffy told the Guardian. “They’d had policemen in. They’d been told, ‘Don’t do this, don’t do that’, but nobody had ever gone in and talked to them about their feelings and emotions like we do.”
The press for Amy Winehouse Foundation’s work comes at an interesting time—in the wake of the release of the documentary AMY, about Amy Winehouse’s life and tragic early death. The film depicts Mitch Winehouse in an unflattering light, implying at times that he did not do enough to prevent Amy Winehouse’s overdose and that he was on occasion an exploitative figure in her life. He has denounced the film and criticized the filmmakers for what he says is a “misleading” portrayal of his role in Amy’s life.