The National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA), through its observance of National Drug Awareness Month 2012, is urging Jamaica’s youth to adopt healthy lifestyles and to reject influences of under-aged drinking and substance abuse.
Themed: ‘Mek Wi Protect Wi Yutes from Substance Abuse’, the purpose of Drug Awareness Month is to encourage the public to participate in a national education programme to increase awareness of the effects of drug abuse on individuals, families, groups and the community at large.
Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on Tuesday November 6, Executive Director of the NCDA, Michael Tucker, noted that “our young people have significant challenges with substance misuse as a result of an undying need for experimentation."
He added that youth often seek refuge from the problems they face or from peer pressure by indulging in illegal drinking and by smoking. Continuing, he said that recent surveys have shown that “there is a significant experimentation within our school population with alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and ganja or other drugs."
Meanwhile, Eastern Regional Manager of the NCDA, O’Neil Smith, informed that several activities have been planned to commemorate Drug Awareness Month.
As part of effort to raise public awareness, Mr. Smith noted that the Council will be launching the Resistance Education Against Drugs (READ) programme, on Monday November 12, at the Medallion Hall Hotel in Kingston, beginning at 9:30 a.m. READ is intended to give a fillip to the ongoing Prevention Education Programme in schools.
The programme will target primary school students (ages 5-7) and will seek to enhance protective factors among the target group as well as to build on resistance strategies and best practices.
Among the highlights of the activities are two services of thanksgiving, which will be held at the Brown’s Town Seventh-Day Adventist Church in St. Ann and at the Ridgemount Church in Mandeville on the November 17 and 18, respectively.
Other activities for the month include a training day and health fair at the Marcus Garvey Youth Information Centre, St. Ann’s Bay (November 21 and 23, respectively); a Parenting Training Seminar at St. James High School (November 22); a Drug Awareness Day at the Morant Bay Anglican Church Hall in St. Thomas (November 27); a Research Day at the Medallion Hall Hotel (November 28); and a Healthy Lifestyle Expo and Debate Competition in St. James (November 30).
The Executive Director is appealing to all Jamaicans to join the NCDA in its effort to raise public awareness through the implementation of innovative programmes that promote and enable the prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and resocialisation of individuals affected by drug abuse.
The Council has, since its inception, been working through partnerships with schools, communities, churches and corporate organisations, in an effort to promote healthy lifestyles among children, adolescents and adults.