Changing attitudes through lived experience

EDUCATION: The Sammy D Foundation's Neil Davis talking to Stirling North students about the story of his son, Sam.
EDUCATION: The Sammy D Foundation's Neil Davis talking to Stirling North students about the story of his son, Sam.

Primary school students in Port Augusta had an emotional day at school this week as they heard first hand the devastating consequences of alcohol fuelled violence in today’s society.

Almost 11 years ago, Neil Davis lost his son Sam Davis to a cowardice one-punch assault and has since dedicated the rest of his life to preventing this tragedy from happening again.

“The night that Sam died we said we were going to set up a foundation. We didn’t know what we were going to do, but it was going to happen,” Neil said.

“It took us a couple of years before we could actually go out and talk about what happened to Sam in front of people. But now we just don’t want another family to go through what we have been through, so we do these talks about what happened to Sam.”

The Sammy D Foundation offers advice and support to people of all ages through education and awareness programs on drug and alcohol related youth violence.

The Foundation has evolved over time and with the help of experts they have developed primary prevention programs aimed at changing the attitudes of young people about the impacts of their actions.

Students at Stirling North Primary School and Flinders View Primary School were visibly moved by Neil’s presentation.

“We know the message is getting out there and we know by how upset the kids were when I was telling my story that it’s getting through to them,” Neil said.

“Today’s bullies can so easily turn into tomorrow’s assaulters and we can help young people nip it in the bud early.

“We hope the kids go home and talk to their parents about this, they talk to their friends about it and we hope to hear them say ‘You know what I’m never going to hit anyone again’.”

Year 7 Stirling North students Scott and Casey took the presentation to heart.

“I learnt that if you need to make a split second decision – make it a smart one – don’t resort to violence. Just walk away,” Scott said.

“I learnt that there are consequences for your actions and that one punch can kill,” Casey added.

Stirling North Student Wellbeing Leader Ryan Morris said bullying, harassment and violence are important aspects of the school curriculum.

“To have it shared from someone’s personal experience really helps the kids to understand that there are consequences for their actions,” he said.

“The kids can now think about the Sammy story if they get in a situation where there could be physical violence, bullying or harassment. They now have strategies to walk away or help protect their friends.”

More information about the Sammy D Foundation and the programs on offer can be found through their website.