Youth Action

An interview with a young contributor of the Handbook on Youth Participation in Drug Prevention Work

April 29th 2022

In this week’s Youth Action story, we bring a short interview with a young contributor of the Handbook on Youth Participation in Drug Prevention Work.

The Handbook provides an overview of youth participation and what role young people might play in prevention. It seeks to convey the value of evidence-based prevention in building healthy communities and highlights the value of young people as important contributors in the development, implementation, and evaluation processes, as opposed to merely being ‘end receivers of interventions’.

It’s great to reconnect with you Merve! Before we discuss the handbook, would you like to describe your time at the Youth Forum?

When I participated in the Youth Forum 2019, I was a high school student. I felt intrigued as well as empowered. Back then, it was my and my peers' time to speak up. That is what youth empowerment means. It makes young adults engaged and contributes to the prevention activities and policies accordingly. Such a special implementation will lead policies to success, obviously by youth contribution.

How did you become involved in the Handbook?

A few months after the Youth Forum, we were invited to contribute to the drafting of the first Handbook on Youth Participation in Drug Prevention Work. The handbook was to be presented to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), giving us young people, once again, the opportunity to contribute to policy. 

It is impressive that you contributed to such a handbook with your peers. What do you like most about the handbook and why it is worth reading?

We have contributed to the development of a 33-page handbook, with the help of several professors and specialists, to present our opinions on the substance use prevention policies as young adults. The recommendation that I like the most in the handbook is the one that indicates "making participation accessible". It was one of the points that I presented during the convention, and it is deeply crucial to highlight that some youth do not have any access to prevention policies because of their living standards.

Any lessons learned during the creation of this youth handbook that still resonates with you today?

I learned to work with my peers from different backgrounds and cultures. Being a part of the policy-making process still makes me feel engaged and promising about my future. Today, I study political science in college, and the roles that I played in Youth Forum and the handbook contribution affected my choice of faculty and major. I still appreciate that.

Made possible with the support of the Russian Federation and the Sovereign Order of Malta