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Tonight We Are Young - The highs and lows of drug use

To remind students that, while they are young, they are not invincible.

by Helen Redfern

Suitable for Key Stage 4/5


‘Young and Invincible’ video from (2m 3s)


To remind students that, while they are young, they are not invincible.

Preparation and materials


  1. Play ‘We are young’ by Fun.

    Leader:  We have been listening to ‘We are young’ by Fun as we came into this assembly today. We are young. Well, you are anyway! Thinking back to last weekend, I’m sure many of you enjoyed feeling young, free, single and invincible, rather like these two young people before us today.

    Reader 1:  Wow! That was some party on Saturday night, wasn’t it? I didn’t notice you leave. What time did you go?

    Reader 2:  About midnight, I think. Yes, it was a good laugh. I had a football/netball match the next day so I couldn’t stay late. What happened after I left?

    Reader 1:  I can’t really remember. That’s how good it was! Everyone was higher than the Empire State. It felt amazing. We set the world on fire. We burned brighter than the sun.

    Lines taken from ‘We are young’.

    Reader 2:  Yeah, sure you did. How did you get home, then?

    Reader 1:  I don’t know. Someone carried me home, I guess. (Line taken from ‘We are young’.) I woke up with Jack and Stuart/Amy and Jess sprawled out on my floor. There was vomit on the carpet and we didn’t even know whose it was. It was hilarious. Mum didn’t see the funny side, of course. She went absolutely mental at us.

    Reader 2:  Are you surprised? My mum would be mad at that, too. So did you get to the match?

    Reader 1:  Nah, I felt too ill. Stayed in bed all day. I know I’d been looking forward to that match for ages and had saved up for the ticket for weeks, but, hey, the party was great, so I guess it was worth it.

    Reader 2:  I guess so. ‘You only live once’ and all that. So, when’s the next one?
  2. Leader:  I wonder how familiar that conversation sounded to you. Maybe you have experienced it yourself or been at parties like that or heard other people talking about them. It is easy to get sucked into the belief that you are young, you only live once, you are invincible. Let’s watch this animation entitled ‘Young and Invincible’ about the downside of taking drugs.

    Show ‘Young and Invincible’ video (it lasts 2.06 minutes)

    This animation cleverly and clearly points out the highs and the lows, the ups and the downs, the pros and the cons of drug use.

    For many young people, however, the voice in their head will still be saying ‘We are young. We only live once. We are invincible.’
  3. Leader Unfortunately, no one is invincible. Take the example of Cory Monteith. 

    Show photo. 

    You will probably recognize him as Finn Hudson from the hit US TV series Glee. Cory had a difficult upbringing and, at 13, started to use marijuana and alcohol to escape his problems. He attended 16 different schools and, after the age of 16, turned to petty crime to fund his addictions. He entered rehab at 19 and, after that, worked as a people greeter for Walmart, a taxi driver, school bus driver and roofer.

    He worked as an actor in Vancouver, British Colombia, before landing his biggest role as Finn in Glee in 2010. From that point, he had it made. He had the perfect job, fame, celebrity, money, a gorgeous girlfriend... he won awards, toured all over the world...  he was living every young person’s dream.

    The image portrayed by his character, Finn, of a clean-living, all-American quarterback, was a far cry from the reality of Cory’s own life. He hoped that talking publicly about his own struggles in the past would help others find a way out of their own addictions. 

    In April 2013, however, it was announced that Cory had entered rehab again. He missed filming the final episodes of the fourth series of Glee as he battled with his addictions. Then, on 17 July, 2013, it was announced that Cory Monteith had tragically died from a heroin and alcohol overdose, alone in a hotel room in Vancouver. 

    Such a tragedy. Such a waste. Such a terrible loss. Sadly, he is not alone.

    It’s nearly 20 years since promising actor River Phoenix died at the age of 23. Kurt Cobain, lead singer of Nirvana, committed suicide in 1994, having struggled in his last years with illness, depression and heroin addiction. Then there was Heath Ledger in January 2008, Brittany Murphy in December 2009 and Amy Winehouse in July 2011. All icons of their generation. All died prematurely. All young, all famous, all immensely talented, yet all definitely not invincible.

Time for reflection

When the life of a young icon is taken at the height of his or her career, a generation is in shock. A generation mourns.

Such a tragedy. Such a waste. Such a terrible loss.

No one is invincible.

When the life of any young person is taken prematurely, his or her family and friends are in shock. Family and friends mourn.

Such a tragedy. Such a waste. Such a terrible loss.

No one is invincible.

Let us take a moment now to think in the silence of Cory Monteith and all those we know who have died prematurely due to some kind of addiction. 

Let us remember their families and friends as they struggle to live with their grief.

Let us pray for peace, comfort and healing.

Spend a moment in silence.

For all of you who are young, maybe the message you can take away from today’s assembly is ‘Don’t stop believing’.

That’s the message of the defining musical moment from Glee. That song, from the end of the pilot episode, seems to have such an optimistic message, but it is actually the story of lonely people desperately searching for success in the belief that it will save them and make them happy and whole. It is the story of Cory Monteith. It is the story of many young people all over the world. As the song says, ‘Some will win, some will lose.’ Unfortunately, the reality of life is that some will win and some will lose. No one is invincible. The positive message remains, though – ‘Don’t stop believing’.

As we listen to that song as we leave this assembly today, think about these words.

Don’t stop believing in happiness.
Don’t stop believing in wholeness.
Don’t stop believing in yourself.
Don’t stop believing in life.

Play ‘Don’t stop believing’ by Journey as the students leave the assembly.


We are young’ by Fun
‘Don’t stop believing’ by Journey

Publication date: October 2013   (Vol.15 No.10)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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