Footy match makes a mark on peer pressure
Hedland Senior High School turned out with the wider community on Maundy Thursday for the Ben Ware Peer Pressure Awareness Memorial Match to mark the life the young man who died in a high speed car chase a year ago.
The footy match, organised in large part by Ben’s mother Benita Ware, along with the school and Wirraka Maya Health Service, provided a forum for speakers such as Principal John Burke and former student Bradley Derschow to address peer pressure and point students in the right direction for finding support.
Two footy teams, students in the school’s “Kicking Goals” program Ben was a part of, played the memorial match.
Team members included Hedland Senior High School students, Ben’s younger brother, and four keen players from Yandeyarra Community School.
Ms Ware stood with the crowd as a small contingent of students released dozens of red balloons into the sky and everyone shared a minute’s silence for Ben.
She said the experience of losing a child was, and still is, devastating.
“I just wanted to make sure that anyone out there knows that one of the reasons why I haven’t got my son here today is that he was peer pressured into doing something and I don’t want any other kid or any other parent going through what I’m going through at this moment.
“It’s a really harrowing time; you go through a lot of anger and a lot of pain and things like that and that thing of waking up and knowing that you’re never going to see your child again is devastating.”
Lifelong resident, 26 year old Bradley Derschow, spoke movingly of his own experiences with peer pressure, his words and his medical story of being a “heart child” particularly poignant.
“It is a wakeup call to them to look at what they’re doing and the impact peer pressure has on them,” Mr Derschow said of Ben’s death.
Principal John Burke also shared some wisdom on the potential minefield of peer pressure.
“We’ll never be able to say, ‘There’s no peer pressure in life’ – that’s a no brainer,” he said.
“But what we can do is to work more effectively to make sure young people have got a tool box to make wise choices.”
Ben was killed April 14, 2011, driving a stolen vehicle, with one passenger, in a high speed police chase through Perth’s northern suburbs.
He was 15.
If you are a young person struggling with peer pressure or any problems in your life, find a person you trust to talk to, or you can contact the Youth Involvement Council in South Hedland on 9140 1272 for help. Lifeline also has a 24 hour counselling service: 13 11 14.