If I ever wondered whether the young people I talk to are listening and actually use the information I present, an email I recently received from a young woman clearly shows that some certainly are. What she shared with me about a strategy that she and her friends (now at university) use to keep safe when they party I believe is the ultimate compliment from a teenager.
Here is an edited version of her email (which I did ask her permission to use):
My friends and I first heard you speak at our school in Adelaide in 2009 when we were in Year 10. Our whole year level loved your talk and over the next couple of years your presentations became the highlight of our year – we would all look so forward to hearing what you were going to say next. We weren’t really party girls when we saw you in Year 10 but by Year 11 we were going out almost every weekend and it was then that we created what we called the ‘Designated Paul Dillon’. This was the person who’s job it was for the night to look after everyone else and make sure everybody was safe. They were not allowed to drink and it was their job to do the ‘chair test’, make sure no-one fed drunk people bread and give the right amount of water to drunk people. You cannot know how many times we were at a party over the final years of high school when someone got sick and everyone looked at each other and would say “What would Paul Dillon do?”
My friends and I are all at uni now and we still make sure we have a ‘Designated Paul Dillon’ when we go out partying or clubbing – we most probably need one now more than in the past. Your influence is pretty big in Adelaide – over the last couple of years at uni there have been a number of times when we would be at a party and there would people we don’t know there and when someone got sick you would hear either “We had this guy come to our school, get a chair and we’ll give them the ‘chair test’!” or “Paul Dillon said that we need to …”
When I get emails like this the only person I ever show them to is my mother! I don’t show them to her to brag or to say ‘look how amazing people think I am’, it’s just that I’m so overwhelmed by the fact that someone would actually take the time to ‘put pen to paper’ and say such lovely things, I need to show them to someone else and say simply ‘can you believe this?’