Positivity put in practice
Among the tattoos on Richie Hardcore's forearm is a song lyric in thick black capital letters that reads: P.M.A ‘TIL I'M D.O.A.
PMA or Positive Mental Attitude sums up the philosophy Mr Hardcore brings to everything he does, including his work as a Community Action Youth and Drugs facilitator for Auckland Council.
He describes the Ministry of Health initiative as a "fence at the top of the cliff" intended to reduce the harm to young people and families caused by illicit drugs and alcohol.
"Off the top of my head, one under 25-year-old a week dies from alcohol-related causes, that's not to say they drink so much they die but it can be by car accidents or violence, which is a real shame," he says.
There are CAYAD units in Central, South and West Auckland and each has its own location-specific objectives.
Within the Central Auckland unit, Mr Hardcore's focus is on tertiary institutions and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
One of the key outcomes of the CAYAD initiative is creating informed community debate and discussion with a fact-based approach rather than leaning on anecdotal evidence.
"We try and underpin all our projects on research and not opinion, which I think gives it a great strength," he says.
"We don't preach abstinence, because abstinence is not something we want people to do. Look at prohibition, that didn't work in Chicago. Al Capone was making a lot of money out of alcohol. And it's the same with drugs."
Mr Hardcore admits growing up with an alcoholic father gave him a negative perception of alcohol early in life and he never really got into the drinking culture.
For the last five years he has identified as "straight-edge", meaning he does not drink alcohol or take drugs.
"I grew up as a pretty angry and sad kid, and when I got into [punk rock] music I found it was a positive way to channel that.
"For me PMA isn't pretending to be happy, it's about finding positive ways to deal with the hardships life can throw us . . ."
Mr Hardcore is active on social media, hosts a radio show on 95bFM and presents a segment called PMA All Day on TVNZ's youth channel, U.
"I try and use that as a cool way to talk about a subject that is often misrepresented as your parents telling you what to do," he says.
"But it's not about being uncool, it's about not wrecking your life."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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