Design champions boost legal highs campaign

Published Tuesday 29 September 2015 at 14:11

Graphic Design degree students from Blackburn College have won the chance for their innovative designs to be used in a new campaign to highlight the dangers of so-called ‘legal high’ drugs.

For the last three years, Blackburn with Darwen Council has worked in partnership with Blackburn College on a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style initiative in which graphic design students are challenged to develop campaign ideas for live projects and then pitch them to the Council.

The aim is to give young people the opportunity to work on important local issues, while also gaining valuable work experience and material for their portfolios. This year, students were asked to develop a Public Health campaign to tell young people about the dangers of novel psychoactive substances, more commonly known as legal highs.

Legal highs are causing increasing concern amongst healthcare professionals, youth workers, parents and the police nationally. They mimic some of the effects of illegal drugs – cannabinoids, stimulants and hallucinogens – but because they are marketed as legal and sold openly, many people mistakenly believe that they are safe to use.

Eight groups of students presented their ideas to Council communications and Public Health leads in July and two winning projects were selected:

  • Truth Behind the Packaging – by Lauren Miller: Leaflets designed as legal highs packets which appear to be ripped open to reveal the hidden dangers of legal highs inside.
  • Pillman – by Emilie Mercier and Imran Ali: A retro game app that highlights different types of legal highs and their dangers.

The Council will now work with the students to turn their ideas into live campaigns. They  were presented with certificates and £10 vouchers for The Mall shopping centre in Blackburn by Harry Catherall, Chief Executive of the Council, and Councillor Andy Kay, Deputy Leader of the Council.

Harry Catherall told the students:

I am delighted that you have been able to do this and I can see you have been incredibly focused and really listened to what we want. These designs are fantastic, they are really eye-catching and informative, and I think they are going to make this a very worthwhile that will really make people think about the dangers of these products.”

Councillor Andy Kay said:

I am very impressed with these designs. Every year the quality has been really good and this year is no exception. This is an important campaign, to educate people about the risks of legal highs, and these designs will really make people take notice.”

Jenna Gardner, course leader at Blackburn College, said:

The projects vary depending on the topical issues in the local area, and in this sense, the students have the opportunity to make a real difference to people’s lives, address real issues, affecting real people, in the borough through design.

This year’s Legal Highs project was the most challenging yet, and we are very proud of the students achievements, and the Council’s commitment to supporting our young people’s educational experience. It’s a huge success story for all of our students, but especially the winning submissions, who will now have their work distributed and used throughout the local area.”


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