Drive to ease up on booze hits city

ASHLEIGH MUIR
Last updated 13:24 26/06/2012

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Binge drinkers across the world have been putting aside the bottle to change their drinking culture and Nelson is up next.

Hello Sunday Morning is a campaign which encourages people to take a 12-week break from alcohol and blog about the experience.

The campaign will be officially launched in Nelson, at ACC's Nelson branch on Thursday.

It started when Australian Chris Raine took a year off alcohol and blogged about it. Now, more than 4500 people worldwide have been involved.

Nelson resident Vanessa Cooper, 23, is partway through her first three-month break from alcohol and said she did not realise the effect it was having on her.

"Definitely give it a go as it is a real eye opener."

She said the break had changed her relationship with alcohol so she was now more likely to have a wine with dinner than a big night out every weekend.

She has been "getting stuck in" to projects, going to the gym and started playing the piano again after 10 years.

New Zealand ambassador for Hello Sunday Morning Jazz Rowland will be fronting the Nelson launch and said the campaign aims to sign up 100 new members in Nelson.

"I grew up in Nelson so I understand the drinking culture. It has become so normal to drink to excess," Miss Rowland said.

"People measure an event by how much alcohol is available. It has become OK to waste a whole day being hungover."

More than 800 New Zealanders have already taken part in the campaign but Miss Rowland said they were aiming for 2000 by the end of July.

A major part of Hello Sunday Morning is blogging about the experience and sharing with others, she said.

"It's become quite a community. They can find at least 10 others going through the same [problems]."

Hazel Trethowen, 26, does not drink a lot, but is still interested in getting involved because of the drinking culture in Nelson.

"A lot of people think it is the only thing to do here. People don't try other stuff.

"I've got a 7-year-old daughter. I'm really concerned about the drinking culture she'll grow up in.

Sally Wood of Hype-GS (Help for Young People at Events and Gathering Spaces) completed two alcohol breaks last year and organised for Miss Rowland to come to Nelson.

"I wanted to do something proactive. For me personally, it has reduced the amount I drink."

Whakatu Maori warden Madeline Barrow said initiatives like this should be given a chance and it reminded her of a previous campaign in Auckland.

"They wore gold rings to say they would give up alcohol for a period of time.

"The other kids wanted to get in on the play. Maybe something like that could happen here."

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Maori wardens patrol Nelson's streets Thursday to Saturday nights, keeping youth and community members safe.

Hello Sunday Morning hopes to have 10,000 members worldwide by the end of the year.

More information can be found at hellosundaymorning.com.au.

- The Nelson Mail

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