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Updating young people on drug awareness 1 February 2007

A PROGRESS report was issued today (Thursday) by the Department of Education on how it is updating and reinforcing the message among young people of the dangers of cannabis, volatile substances and binge drinking.

Year 7 students are being informed about volatile substance abuse, Year 9 students about cannabis and Year 10s about binge drinking, in line with an aim of the Chief Minister’s Drug and Alcohol Strategy.

Spearheading this is Orla McGlinchey, the Department of Education’s Drug and Alcohol Liaison Officer, in conjunction with the strategy co-ordinator in the Chief Secretary’s office.

At a meeting today, at which some agencies outlined the work they are doing to reinforce the strategy, Orla explained:

‘The Department of Education has being working in partnership with community police liaison officers and school nurses. ‘We have been busy since the start of the academic year going round all the secondary schools and introducing ourselves in the school assemblies. We hope that we come across as caring and encourage the students to contact us if they have any concerns, or want to know more about the subject.’

Orla continued:

‘Our young people are very precious to us and the Department of Education aims to equip them with the information and emotional skills to assist them make informed decisions about the dangers of these substances.’

The lessons come as part of a multi-agency response to a 2003 survey of 15 and 16-year-olds Europe wide, which led to concern over levels of use of cannabis and misuse of volatile substances.

Drug and alcohol education is delivered in classrooms, as part the health curriculum, and at an interactive level with the Youth Service. Students are taking part in an art competition to design a health awareness poster, which will be printed and displayed in secondary schools and youth centres.

The Department of Health’s Health Promotion Office has been assisting with producing resources for the schools and will help judge competition entries. Orla said:

‘A few months ago a media promotion took place on alcohol. The volatile substance abuse and cannabis update is a continuation of this promotion, making our community aware of the work that has been carried out.’

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