PRESS RELEASE

UNODC’s ‘Super Skills’ supports skill development
for vulnerable children worldwide

Vienna (Austria), 20 November 2021

On World Children’s Day, the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is launching ‘Super Skills’, the next phase of its ‘Listen First’ initiative, supporting evidence-based drug use prevention to raise happy, healthy children.

Prevention of substance abuse is a key target under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, specifically under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 on Health. ‘Super Skills’ aims to support social and emotional skill development as a foundation for substance use prevention for children and youth, especially in marginalized communities.

“Drug use prevention based on science is an effective investment in a healthy future. Amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its disruptions to education and social interactions, the new phase of UNODC’s ‘Listen First’ initiative offers valuable support for children to develop skills which help them build resilience to drug use, and empower them against adversity,” said UNODC Executive Director, Ghada Waly.

'Listen First' was launched in 2016 during the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem. The global campaign, using the hashtag #ListenFirst, raised awareness of science-based drug prevention and of the need to listen to children and youth. Its second phase, 'The Science of Care' series [Listen First (unodc.org)], was released in 2020 to support parents and caregivers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative has been adopted nationally in Lithuania, Poland, Serbia, Slovenia and the United Arab Emirates.

The key messages of the new series, 'Super Skills: The Science of Skills' are:

  • Evidence-based science to prevent drug use in children and youth is essential to communities' health and well-being.
  • Listening to children and youth is the first step to help them stay healthy and safe.
  • Social and emotional skill development lays an essential foundation for substance use prevention in children and youth.

Five fun, engaging 3D videos show animated ‘Super Team’ characters who face common life challenges and use social and emotional skills to solve problems, build relationships and improve their magical community, turning their difficulties into Super Powers.

The characters intercut with real children shown coping with their emotions, friends, community, and life tasks. In addition, each video comes with science-based educational material focused on social and emotional competencies - Empathy, Compassion, Respect, Gratitude, Honesty, Integrity, Confidence, Hope, Motivation, Curiosity.

Endorsed by international partners, such as WiRED International and the International Society of Substance Use Professionals (ISSUP), the materials are available for educators, parents, teachers, policymakers, health workers, prevention workers, and the wider public.  

‘Listen First’ materials are available in English, Spanish, and French on the Listen First website, with guidance on local adaptations.

To see the first ‘Super Skills’ videos, produced by Ethan Films click:
https://youtu.be/B4Lp72G2bzE (English)
https://youtu.be/624h7v5vnEU (French)
https://youtu.be/O_Q6k6Kl6VY (Spanish)

For more information on ‘Listen First’ click here to sign up for the initiative’s monthly newsletter.


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For more information, please contact:

Elizabeth Mattfeld
UNODC Programme Manager
Email: elizabeth.mattfeld[at]un.org