Helps Parents Help Their Children

UNODC recognizes that the power to stop young people from abusing drugs, becoming involved in crime and participating in risky behaviour that can lead to HIV/AIDs infection lies squarely in the hands of their parents. UNODC's regional 'training of trainers' (TOT) workshop, run in Almaty from the 23 rd to the 27 th of January within the framework of the global project "Prevention of drug use, HIV/AIDS and crime among young people through family skills training programmes", represented a practical application of this concept.

The goal of the training was to prepare Intern-FAST (Family and Schools Together) trainers, who will help conduct the project's second phase under the direction of FAST certified supervisors. This second phase will train national teams of instructors at pilot schools in each participating country, who will in turn directing a series of spring training sessions for families. These final sessions are designed to strengthen and improve parents' capacities to take better care of their children.

The TOT workshop was led by the FAST educational program's developer Ms. Lynn McDonald, an international consultant and a professor of social work research at Middlesex University, London, along with two FAST-certified international trainers. The methodology used in the course was developed over ten years ago, and has since evolved through both the incorporation of new information and feedback from TOT participants. Consequently a number of effective training methods were used in the workshops, including power-point lectures, exercises incorporating informative handouts and a screening of the video documentary "Working with parents". Role-play exercises were particularly important to the workshops, giving participants the opportunity to apply newly-acquired skills to hypothetical situations. Participants assumed the roles of particular members in training teams, in order to experience the impact they have on both their fellow team members and the families they work with. They then assumed the trainer role for each aspect of the 6 day FAST training of trainers workshop, in order to practice training techniques they had learnt. Small group discussions were used to review each role play situation, utilizing the learning model 'plan, do and review'. Multiple evaluation forms were completed by participants and the results were discussed.

As a result of the TOT workshop, 19 school teachers, school psychologists, parent partners and six members of cultural-adaptation groups from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan were all ready to be national teams of Intern-Fast Trainers.

The participants had also taken part in the Initial UNODC "Families and schools together (FAST)" training programme which took place in autumn 2010. Training programmes like the TOT workshop can be considered the first serious step in building the capacity to scale up the FAST program in participating Central Asian countries. One Kyrgyzstan participant noted that she considered the TOT workshop to be greatly beneficial. "I have gained an ocean of useful information from this training," she said. "I hope that through my work with families, th e relationship between parents and their children will be strengthened, while parents will become more attentive to their children's needs.  I have gained a lot from this training, and I will have to do an excellent job in implementing the FAST programme in Kyrgyzstan." The implementation of evidence-based family skills training programmes such as FAST can help prevent children and adolescents from using drugs, getting involved in crime and becoming vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. Families can act as a powerful form of risk-prevention and protective support, allowing for healthy child and youth development.