Sport can be a powerful tool to engage communities and prevent crime, violence and potentially drug use among youth. In the context of the 64 th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, international experts gathered virtually during a side event to discuss what the evidence says about the role of sport in supporting youth to prevent drug use and address related risk and protective factors.
Sport, and physical activity more broadly, can also be effective in promoting wellbeing and health, including mental health and reducing the risk of depression, as well as improve the cognitive functions and academic outcomes of young people and adolescents.
In the context of its Youth Crime Prevention through Sport initiative under the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration, UNODC continues to support and engage Palestinian youth during the COVID-19 pandemic. Building on the Line Up Live Up sport-based curriculum, which was piloted for the first time in Palestine in 2018, the Office continues engaging young people through the development of awareness-raising material using a participatory video approach. A selected group of young teachers, Line Up Live Up trainers, and mass communication students received 20 virtual sessions of training on developing their own audio-visual material, along with messaging on violence, crime and drug use and on the role of sport in building youth and community resilience.
Sport-based learning has become a part of most educational systems around the world, but it is also increasingly recognized as an essential component of crime prevention, especially for at-risk youth. When sports activities are paired with life skills training, as they are in UNODC's Line Up, Live Up initiative, they become a unique tool to affect social change and development.
Line Up, Live Up is an innovative method, on both the physical and intellectual levels, to train youngsters to stay away from trouble while developing resilience. With this evidence-based curriculum that uses sports and life skills, UNODC has focused on engaging youth from marginalized and at-risk communities, promoting sports while inculcating and strengthening positive life skills and values which can help young people better navigate daily challenges in life. It contributes to improving young people's personal and social skills, to affecting their attitudes and beliefs with regards to violence, crime and drug use, and to enhancing their self-motivation, self-confidence and feelings of self-worth.
Countries around the world are grappling with the many harmful effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including health and socio-economic impacts. Peru is one of the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean most severely affected by COVID-19 in terms of public health outcomes. The social and economic impact is also considerable, and young people are extremely vulnerable to the disruptions the pandemic has caused, with major effects on their education, economic opportunities, and well-being. Many of the hardships faced by young people during the COVID-19 crisis are also known risk factors associated with crime, violence and drug use, and may expose youth to increased risks for victimization and involvement with crime during and after the pandemic.
When international experts gathered at UNODC's headquarters in Vienna back in 2016 to develop a sport-based intervention that would help reduce youth crime and drug use, the guiding principle was that it had to be informed by existing evidence on what did and did not work. Building on this, and recognizing the evidence about the benefits of developing life skills among youth, UNODC created the Line Up Live Up curriculum. A first for UNODC, this 10-session programme combined sports activities with life skills training for youth aged 13 to 18. Some four years later, the programme has now been piloted in 12 countries worldwide, building life skills among more than 13,000 youth and working with 900-plus trainers.