The National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) launched a drug abuse prevention initiative dubbed READ (Resistance Education Against Drugs) for juniors, ages 5-8 years old. According to Executive Director of the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA), Michael Tucker, “The reality is that we have to start prevention programming early. Our surveys show that Jamaican children are experimenting earlier with addictive substances. Despite scare resources, the NCDA is innovating and designing appropriate prevention programmes.” The new NCDA initiative targets children from twenty (20) inner city schools in Kingston and St. Andrew.
READ is designed to strengthen the skills of young children to make good choices and improve their resilience to drug offers. Interactive sessions encourage participants to talk about their feelings toward drug use and demonstrate ways that they can refuse to accept drug offers. Class teachers attend the sessions as well. READ is built on the ongoing Prevention Education Programme (PEP) in schools.
Research shows that early experimentation with drugs increases the risk of addiction among youth and reduces their chances of recovery. “Our children are exposed to addictive substances, legal and illegal, at a very early age. With limited resources, we are holding the hands of our children, teachers and parents and lifting up Jamaica. We need financial support to expand our programmes and would welcome private sector partnership,” Mr. Tucker said.
The pilot ends in Drug Awareness Month, November 2009. Several schools in Kingston and St. Andrew and over 200 children are set to participate in the READ pilot.