reflected by Radmila Doder, active Youth Initiative member since 2013 (Serbia)

A lot has changed since 56th Commission on Narcotic Drugs and second Youth Forum at United Nations Headquarters in Vienna in so many ways. Back in 2013, I was 17-year old high school student who has been since recently involved in drug prevention but because of the results and the work of younger me had done I was selected to represent my country Serbia in the best possible way in Vienna.

I met so many inspiring young people and adults during the conference in 2013 thanks to whom I gain so much knowledge and inspiration to continue to work hard when I get back home in Serbia where new project Grab your future was reaching more youth every day. During one of the side events I had an opportunity to give a speech about this projects to delegates from all over the world! I still remember how excited I was before the speech and how happy I was afterwards when I discussed with delegates about it! This project was supported by DAPC grant.

One thing I didn't expected. Thanks to participating at the UNODC Youth Initiative Youth Forum I met someone who soon became one of my closest friends and colleagues when it comes to work on international level even though we live on different continents: Marcelo Martinez, Youth Ambassador from Peru. Our Skype calls last sometimes up to 6 hours!

For these 4 years I participated in and initiated many projects, read a lot and learned a lot about drug prevention. New policies have been made, new agreements as well. New information about drugs have been announced. And UNODC Youth Initiative Youth Forum? It has influenced 16o youth leaders so far and the influence of the work of the UNODC Youth Initiative it's becoming bigger every day.

Last year was extremely important since UNGASS took place in United Nations Headquarters in New York. During the years, youth had opportunity to give a statement at the plenary and address the delegates.

 

 

This year Andrea from Montenegro and Ghanim from Qatar did an amazing job on the third day of the 60 th CND! It was more than well received by the delegates! Regarding overall role of youth this year was a little bit different. For the first time in the history of Commission on Narcotic Drugs at the opening ceremony first speakers were youth. Yes, you read well. The youth.

I cannot explain by words how honored I was for getting this opportunity especially because I was going to give a speech with Marcelo! But also I felt quite responsible. Because our voices weren't just voices of Marcelo and Radmila. Our voices were voices of millions of youth across the globe.

When you think a little bit, what is most important thing in life? I think health. Drug problem is a health problem. Who is affected the most? The youth. And usually the most vulnerable ones. This is why this is so much important! This is why after more than 4 years trying to improve things in this field I am not giving up.

When it comes to Youth Forum 2017, some things changed, I am now in my early twenties (21) and a student at Faculty of Law of University of Belgrade.

Impressions about Youth Forum 2017? Everything was more than amazing! But you know what was the greatest thing? Young people who participated. I could learn from each of them so much! From 14 year olds to youth older than me. We debated, we discussed and I think if Presidents/Prime ministers/monarchs/Ambassadors of our countries heard us, I think they would be really proud to see with how much passion we were making this Forum the most constructive as possible.

And yes, there are results. Not only when it comes to wonderful memories and new friendships but also results for the future.

 

 

We discussed what we want and what we can do on national as well as on international level. When it comes to international level we started discussing in Vienna and continued when we got back home!

 

 

First collaborative project we are working on is the Youth Initiative Magazine which will be (we will do our best) an excellent education tool for all the youth who want to engage in drug prevention but as well as other groups such as parents who really need to get some crucial and useful information so they can know how to protect their children from psychoactive substance abuse. In addition, it will be translated into many languages but original version will be in English. We are preparing you something big!

The second one is really broad: International campaigns. We are preparing you many interesting campaigns which will make an impact. One has been already announced. Actually, it's a challenge. For 30 days you are supposed to live healthier. Post on social media photos and videos of eating healthy, doing sports, etc. by using #30dayshealthchallenge   #UNODCYouthInitiative and invite others!

 

Third project is going to be an exchange programme between this years participants!

This is going to be excellent way for continuing exchanging the experiences and participating in activities regarding drug prevention in other countries!

 

 

And when it comes to Serbia and working on national level, I had an opportunity to meet Mr Milan Pekic, the General Manager of Office for combating drugs of Goverment of Serbia, who was present at this years Commision on Narcotic Drugs and I had a meeting with him in Serbia when I got back home. I was more than happy when he told me that he will provide his support. I am looking forward to that cooperation!

Furthermore, I had a meeting with the Regional Officer at the UNODC in Serbia, Mr Milos Stojanovic. We have discussed a lot about common mistakes in this field, effective drug prevention and future activities of UNODC Youth Initiative for which he gave his full support as well as the support for any other activities regarding drug prevention where he can help!

I am really proud that youth in Serbia has this kind of support!

I talked to others and some of the goverments from other countries have also supported the work as well!

If you are someone young and you are reading this get involved in drug prevention and trust me you won't regret it.

If you are someone young and dealing with substance abuse please search for help because your health has to be your priority.

If you are a parent please listen and talk to your children.

If you are someone influential, please use your influence and support and help in this fight for healthier world.

Stay tuned and get involved! Together we can reach more than ever before! Together we build a better future! Thank you!

All the best from the Youth Ambassador from sunny Serbia!