Meet a Scientologist:
Former British Thai Boxing Champ Pete Dwan Helps Kids Face Down a Formidable Challenger: Drugs
Reaching kids in the United Kingdom with his timely Truth About Drugs message, the Scientologist from Manchester urges them to steer clear of the choice that nearly killed him some 28 years ago.
“I know what it means to have a problem with drugs,” says Pete Dwan. “I was only 21 when my liver stopped working and I almost died.”
It’s now been 30 years since Dwan almost succumbed to his lethal drug habit. He went on to become a British Thai Boxing champion nearly two decades ago. Now, at 51, he’s dedicated his life to battling an opponent that is not as visible but even more deadly—drug abuse—and to reaching kids before the dealers do.
“I tell them my story,” says the Manchester native. “They can see I know what I’m talking about.”
Indeed he does. And Dwan uses that wisdom to convince young people that the path to drugs is a dead end—sometimes literally. “They’re at the age where they’re making decisions about their future,” he says, “and they recognize the truth.”
Dwan is as committed and determined in his latest quest as he was about earning his boxing title in 1998. Over the past 10 years, he has spoken to more than 81,000 kids, convincing them to steer clear of the drugs and alcohol that almost took him down permanently as a young adult.
The enthusiastic Dwan currently seeks corporate sponsorship that would enable him to devote himself full-time to delivering the drug education lectures. A onetime youth kickboxing coach, he has of late committed himself to carrying out drug prevention—supporting himself financially by working weekends.
Having become a Scientologist some 11 years ago, Dwan uses Truth About Drugs booklets in his program. It’s part of a drug prevention initiative supported by the Church of Scientology, one that he praises for its veracity and effectiveness. The materials, he says, are unrivaled in driving home the drug education message.
“Kids have a lot of false information,” Dwan believes. “The booklets give them the basic facts. I like them because they are getting the truth out there, in amongst all of the confusion and conflicting data. And the booklets travel—you have no idea how many hands they will go through.”
Teachers are often surprised by the lightheartedness and inspiration of Dwan’s presentations. “They expect the talk to be hard-hitting and serious,” he notes, “but at the end, everyone is really happy and they’re all high five-ing me.”
Through his lectures, Dwan is not only educating young people but building a grassroots movement.
“I’ve surveyed thousands of kids after giving them the talk,” he says. “The biggest thing they say to the question of ‘How can you use what you learned today’? is ‘I can help someone else with it.’”
Dwan recalls that when he was taking drugs, there weren’t as many drugs available and information about their potency and danger was hard to find. Drug abuse was thought to be mostly restricted to rock stars and celebrities. That’s hardly the case today.
“Kids get so much information thrown at them, so many lies,” Dwan says. “If we educate all of our young people, we can have a society where no one does drugs. The reason I do what I do—and why I am so passionate about it—is because I know I’m making a difference.”
The Scientology religion was founded by author and philosopher L. Ron Hubbard. The first Church of Scientology was formed in Los Angeles in 1954 and the religion has expanded to more than 11,000 Churches, Missions and affiliated groups, with millions of members in 167 countries.
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