CARICOM Hosts Workshop on Edutainment for Drug Prevention: High Attendance from Member States

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) – A five-day workshop organised by the CARICOM Secretariat on using edutainment in primary drug prevention, opened on Monday in St Johns, Antigua and Barbuda with 13 Member States participating.

Edutainment is the creative use of the visual and performing arts to educate even while entertaining an audience on social issues. It is a very popular social marketing tool used largely in educating youth audiences.

Funded under the 9th EDF Programme, the workshop, organised in collaboration with the Ministry of Health Social Transformation, Prices and Consumer Affairs, Antigua and Barbuda, is preparing young people who work in drug prevention to use edutainment strategies in developing and implementing anti-drug campaigns.

Ms. Beverley Reynolds, Programme Manager, Sustainable Development, told participants on Monday that the workshop was designed to help them appreciate the performing arts as a means of sensitising their peers about drug use and its resultant dangers.

Acknowledging the contribution youth had made individually and collectively in advancing regional development, Ms Reynolds referenced studies which revealed the tremendous risks and vulnerability factors that prevented young people from making an even more significant contribution. The most recent study is the watershed CARICOM Commission on Youth Development Report (2010) on the situation of Caribbean youth. Titled Eye on the Future, investing in Youth Now for Tomorrow’s Community, the Report pointed to youth being most at risk to illicit trafficking and other vulnerabilities, and called for greater investment in youth development.

Ms Reynolds said that the study had jolted CARICOM Heads of Government to the gravity of the situation of Caribbean youth, and that they had committed to devising youth related policies and implementing the necessary interventions to address the situation.

“The war is on for the lives of our young people, and all of us ought to get involved,” she said. “It costs far less to prevent addiction, than to treat and rehabilitate someone suffering from drug addiction,” Ms Reynolds added.

For the past two years, the CARICOM Secretariat has been building the capacity of Member States to curtail substance abuse and illicit trafficking. Through funding from the European Union, the Secretariat has coordinated and convened more than 10 capacity building workshops covering areas such as the development of anti-drug plans and strategies, monitoring and evaluation; development of street-based drug intervention programmes to reduce health and other social consequences of drug addiction and the development of public education campaigns on drug abuse. The introduction to edutainment is the most recent tool being used in assisting Member States in designing effective public education campaigns on substance abuse.

Applauding the efforts of the CARICOM Secretariat in the fight against drug abuse, Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Health Social Transformation, Prices and Consumer Affairs, the Hon. Wilmoth Daniel noted that under the Illicit drug programme of the CARICOM Secretariat, two dormant national drug councils have been re-activated; four Member States have reviewed and were updating their national anti-drug strategy and plan. In addition, a number of manuals have been produced, including the CARICOM Universal Manual for Standard of Care Treatment and Rehabilitation of Substance Abusers, to assist drug demand reduction practitioners in providing services to their clients.

He noted that the workshop on the use of edutainment in primary drug prevention is a welcomed activity in stepping up the fight against drug abuse and illicit trafficking and in helping to rescue young people from risky behaviours that would destroy their lives,

The five day workshop ends on Saturday when the participants would have transferred learning to the production several edutainment pieces to be performed in the Market Square in St Johns.

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