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Youth campaign against drug, substance abuse

Staff Reporter

Street children in the age group of 14 to 18 years are vulnerable

CHENNAI: When youth talk on the ills of drug and substance abuse, it is sure to have an impact on their peers.

On Saturday, when young volunteers from Asha Nivas drove home the message, say no to drugs and alcohol, they was applauded and cheered.

At the Otteri centre of the organisation, which works in the fields of women empowerment, child welfare, HIV/AIDS and drug abuse, the young men hailing from different slum areas of the city spoke their hearts through song and dance programmes.

The audience combined their voices with the youth, to vent their opposition to the vices. For the organisation, it was a battle well fought. And perhaps won.

These young men were roped in from the slums of Chromepet, Taramani, Guindy, Saidapet, Teynampet, T. Nagar, K.K. Nagar, Mylapore, R.A. Puram, the coastal areas of the city, Washermanpet, Harbour, Pulianthope, Otteri and Vyasarpadi.

After the cultural programmes, the students heard from doctors on how to banish drugs and attain life and the physical and psychological consequences of drug and substance abuse.

Lilly Josephine, Chief Coordinator, Asha Nivas, said street children in the age group of 14 to 18 years were a vulnerable group for drug abuse. "They have a strong peer group which mostly influences them," she said.

Roughly working out the extent of the problem, she said at least 25 per cent of the youth in slums were into some form of drugs or substance abuse. The problem has been especially acute in a few slums in the Harbour area and the coastal belt.

Often, unemployment, problems at home and livelihood issues led the youth to take to such vices, she added.

Words of advice also came from the Joint Commissioner of Police-North Chennai, C. Sylendra Babu.

Kurian Thomas, Director, Asha Nivas, distributed prizes to the participants.

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