9 youth leaders, engaged in drug use prevention in their communities in 7 different countries, were gathered in Vienna 11-15 March to share their experiences, opinions, and visions, and to deliver their joint message to the representatives from Civil Society, Governments, and the United Nations, during the fifty-sixth Commission on Narcotic Drugs.
Representing the youth with whom they are working in their home communities they concluded, that although they all come from very different communities and societies, in the end, the reasons behind the harmful use of substances are the same everywhere.
They presented their achievements in mobilizing their peers, schools, and communities during this past year to the delegates, stating their personal commitment to reach to their peers offering reliable information and opposing misleading or stigmatizing images; to advocate for a better quality of schooling and safe and nurturing school environments that offer also prevention curriculums and preventive school policies, and finally to support the families in protecting their children, and offer meaningful opportunities for participation to their peers supporting the sense of belonging and the formation of strong identities.
The youth called upon the policymakers to prioritize the health and wellbeing of the youth, to protect them from the availability of harmful substances, and to oppose all exclusion and punishment, offering information, support, and treatment instead. Finally, the youth called for more resources on education, psychosocial services, and drug use prevention.
The message of the youth was well received by over 110 delegates in the side-event organized with the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) titled "Youth drug prevention - we can move the world". The highlight of the week was on Thursday morning when the youth addressed the plenary of the commission.
Thanks to the generous support of the Russian Federation and the Sovereign Order of Malta