|Performance poet Gez Walsh’s first book in this series is a bit of a radical departure.
Some would say he has "joined the war against drugs”, but he would probably dispute that, or at least in so many words. FAX 4 U: Drugs, isin fact setting out to be deliberately non-confrontational and non-judgemental.In the 21st century the problem of drugs is everywhere we look and nowhere are the issues more keenly felt than when they involve children.
With the current drive to try and ensure that today's young people are made aware of the dangers involving drugs at an early enough age to have an effect on their future actions, appropriate material is required to convey the message. Growing up in the 21st century presents many hazards for children and young adults who are faced with inevitable situations of potential risk. Not only are there the usual trials of adolescence: sexual development, hormonal upheaval and peer pressure to deal with, but also issues brought about by changes in social attitudes, each fraught with its own dangers: bullying, drug abuse, internet"friendships" and sometimes even lack of "parenting".
In an ever-developing and accessible world, full of technological and social changes shaping our attitudes, there is a crucial need for knowledge to arm today's young people against whatever the world might throw in their direction. Modern living can be stressful enough, but consider the added strain if you are a child or young adult who is disabled in some way, whose skin is a different colour to the rest of the class, who can't speak the language properly, or who's dyslexic. FAX 4 U is a series of simple, accessible pocket-sized books which make use of material written by renowned children's performance poet Gez Walsh, intended to stimulate teacher-pupil discussion in the classroom, and also provide material for health workers, parents and those in the advice or counselling environment as a first introduction to each subject. The objective of FAX 4 U is to be non-judgemental, offering informed choices. Each book takes a topic and explores it in a way that children can relate to,presenting information in an off-beat, humorous way that engages attention. Inthe end, the reader is left to make up his or her own mind, or take the discussion further.
Frequently,children do exactly the opposite to what "authority-figures"tell them, particularly if their "patronising detectors" pick up that a "thou shalt not" attitude is being employed. They are also relentless critics of any lack of continuity in adults' arguments, aware of the double standard often operating when parents preach about the dangers drugs hold, whilst drinking or smoking themselves. As Gez himself points out, there is a need to stimulate discussion of the whole drugs ethos and issues surrounding the dangers of addiction (of all kinds) to enable teachers, counsellors and people working in similar roles, to allow children to arrive at their own informed choices, based on the facts available.Young people, like the rest of us, prefer to reach their own conclusions. Gez describes it as "teaching, not preaching.”
This is why in this book, the subject is tackled from a new angle. Drugs maybe a serious subject but, making use of the humour and empathy evolved throughout his previous career as a social worker and, latterly, his many appearances at schools up and down the UK, the author aims to connect with youngsters by concentrating on areas which they find inherently funny. Gez also raises awareness of substances that traditionally young, and older, people do not consider dangerous or even drug-related, such as caffeine, tobacco and alcohol. At£2.99, A6 pocket-sized, 48 pages long, using eye-catching colour and packed with Gez's idiosyncratic brand of humour that has sold over 100,000 copies of his "Potty" Poets books, Fax 4 U: Drugs is intended to be priced so that schools and projects can provide class sets or individual copies at a reasonable cost, without overstretching tight budgets. Because of this keen pricing to keep the cost low to readers, the book is currently not available through normal book trade channels, only direct from the publisher. For schools who want to follow up reading the book with the "real thing”, Gez has developed a new act around the material and now offers a dynamic performance which facilitates relaxed, informal workshops.