Youth Substance Abuse Prevention and Awareness & Peer Educator Capacity Building Training Programme
SANCA Western Cape is fully committed to creating a drug-free environment in which young people can enjoy their freedom, develop intellectually, socially, economically, emotionally, spiritually and physically, and go on to live a responsible, constructive and fulfilling life. The effects of substance abuse can have a devastating impact on the lives of young people and, for this reason, SANCA works very hard at encouraging young South Africans to refrain from abusing substances.
The primary purpose of the Youth Substance Abuse Prevention and Awareness Programme, which has been operating successfully for more than 50 years, is to prevent substance abuse amongst youth and to promote alternative, healthy lifestyles.
What are the objectives of the Youth Programme?
The primary objectives of the awareness sessions and in-depth prevention programme, offered mainly in primary and secondary schools located in hot spots within high-risk communities of the Western Cape, are to:
- Create awareness and provide drug education among children and young people about substance abuse,
- Develop effective leadership and life skills to assist children and young people to resist the allure of illicit drugs and alcohol,
- Empower children and young people to make informed decisions, to evaluate these decisions and take responsibility for their choices,
- Redirect the purpose and energy of children and young people towards positive life goals and to promote healthy lifestyles and behaviour as alternatives to substance abuse and other risky behaviours, and
- Create a platform of support for those who already struggling with substance abuse problems;
- Capacity building and training of grades 9 – 11 to serve as peer educators in schools to implement a referring and general substance abuse awareness activities in their school.
How is the programme presented?
The programme is presented in primary and secondary schools for grades that have been selected by the school principal and the educators. This multi-faceted, holistic prevention programme comprises five specific components:
- Information and Awareness Sessions,
- A more in-depth Prevention Programme incorporating a drug education and awareness session as well as between three and seven life skills training sessions,
- Learners who present with a substance abuse problem are assessed and referred for counseling or treatment,
- Holiday programmes that are conducted on an ad hoc basis and in conjunction with other non-profit organisations and government departments, and
- Peer educators are appointed and trained in selected schools to assist with ongoing awareness campaigns and the referral of learners with a problem.
How does the programme work?
Information and awareness sessions, which are presented during a school period, provide drug education and accurate information about substance abuse, its root causes and its detrimental effect on individuals at a social, physical, emotional and psychological level. Many of the schools at which SANCA Western Cape presents information and awareness sessions frequently also request the organisation’s return to conduct the life skills training sessions that form part of the more in-depth prevention programme.
The following life skills are covered: decision-making, peer pressure, self-image, conflict resolution, communication, relationships and leadership. These modules also illustrate the link between substance abuse, health and social problems such as HIV/AIDS, Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, crime, violence and unemployment. Schools are able to select modules of their choice to create a tailor-made programme that meets their unique needs.
The more in-depth prevention programme comprises three to eight sessions lasting between 30 to 45 minutes presented. It is presented by highly experienced, well qualified SANCA facilitators and entails one drug education and awareness session as well as an additional two to seven life skills training sessions. Groups comprise one school class, ranging in size from about 25 to 40 learners.
Peer Educator and Youth Development Training Programme – “Life is a Choice!”
The idea is to empower these selected young people / youth leaders to positively influence and support other learners in their school. Peer educator initiatives hold many advantages for the young person seeking support as well as the peer educator. In spite of having access to supportive educators and other sources of support, learners usually turn to their peers first when faced with the struggles of adolescence and other related challenges. Young people are more likely to seek the support and advice of peer educators they can relate to and who fully understand them and their circumstances. Peer educators in turn, acquire many valuable skills in addition to gaining a sense of self-worth by sharing valuable life lessons, worthwhile experiences and assisting their peers. This can motivate these young people to reach out to others and to perfect their skills further. For many peer educators this position becomes a vehicle for personal, career and even future community development opportunities.
Prospective peer counsellors, usually Grade 9 and 11 learners identified and nominated by educators, attend an intensive two-day training programme on effective communication, basic counselling techniques and providing effective peer support. The training programme also equips these young people to identify learners who are experiencing difficulties, especially with substance abuse, teaches them how to approach these learners and how to refer them to appropriate service providers or sources of support.
Trained peer counsellors also assist professional staff with prevention programmes and after-care support networks in their schools or local communities. They network with their local schools, Local Drug Action Committees, churches, sport and recreation clubs, the Departments of Education and Social Development as well as other role players in the field to reach youth at risk of falling victim to substance abuse.
SANCA social workers provide on-going supervision and support, on a monthly basis, to monitor all peer counsellors who are actively involved in the programme.
Key project activities within this initiate include:
- Identification, recruitment and assessment of potential peer educators from newly identified senior secondary schools in the Western Cape Province. Schools in high-risk communities are the primary target. SANCA works closely with educators, who identify and nominate potential youth leaders to be trained as peer educators.
- Facilitation of intensive two-day (16 hour) comprehensive training workshops for all potential peer educators (comprising four modules) by SANCA trainers, which cover:
- Understanding alcohol and substance abuse,
- Role of peer educators,
- Making good choices and other life skills training, and
- Life is a challenge – intervention strategies to promote a healthy lifestyle.
Once the potential trainees have been carefully assessed, they attend an intensive two-day (or 16 hour) training programme (pending learners’ availability at school) comprising the following modules:
Peer educator initiatives encourage and support relationships between young people based on trust, respect, acceptance and accurate information-giving. They are empowered to make informed, healthy choices and decisions, and are far more likely to steer clear of the allure of drugs.
Who are the beneficiaries?
The content of this programme is flexible and can be presented to learners in primary and secondary schools or any youth at risk. SANCA offers this programme in under-resourced, high-risk communities to approximately 9,500 Grade 6 and 7 primary school learners as well as Grade 8, 9 and 10 high school learners from Atlantis, Athlone, Cape Town, Guguletu, Hanover Park, Khayelitsha, Manenburg, Mitchells Plain, Phillipi, Strandfontein, Tygerberg and as far a field as Paarl.
What does the programme cost?
Approximately 90% of programme expenditure is secured by grants and donations through on-going fundraising. A nominal fee structure is in place to cover the shortfall. We require a motivational letter from the beneficiary to rendering of fully sponsored programme.