The 3rd Asian Youth Congress cum Preventive Drug Education Symposium (PDE) was successfully implemented in Singapore from the 16th to the 19th of November 2004. The Colombo Plan Drug Advisory Programme (DAP) organised this initiative, in collaboration with the Central Narcotics Bureau of Singapore, and with financial aid from the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), U.S Department of State and the National Council Against Drug Abuse, Singapore. The congress was an affirmation of the Colombo Plan Drug Advisory Programme’s belief that youth have the zest and potential to be the best that they can be – without drugs; and that youth have the power and ability to make a difference – to create a vibrant and drug-free world. Reiterating this belief, the theme for the 3rd Asian Youth Congress cum Preventive Drug Education Symposium was ‘YOUths can do it!’
Nearly 150 delegates from 18 countries attended the congress. Notable, was the participation of three delegates from Afghanistan for the first time.
The opening ceremony was graced by the Guest of Honour Mr. Lim Hock San, Chairman, National Council Against Drug Abuse- Singapore, Mr. Tay Bian How, Director, Colombo Plan Drug Advisory Programme and Mr. Eric Tan Chong Sian, Director, Central Narcotics Bureau – Singapore. The highlights of this ceremony included a march-pass by the delegates in their colourful national costumes, a PDE gallery tour – where the invitees and delegates were takenon a tour of PDE posters and pictures displayed by the participating countries, and a rap performance titled ‘YOUths can do it’ by a youth delegate.
In addition to plenary sessions on youth empowerment and preventive drug education by PDE experts and youth leaders, the congress also included informative country presentations by the youth delegates, as well as a spectacular session on illicit drugs and their effects on the body.
The workshops conducted were a mixture of both education and entertainment. They focused on life skills development, stress management, family therapy and preventive drug edutainment. The youth were also given the opportunity to ‘think-a-ton’ and generate their own ideas for PDE in their countries.
The grand finale of the youth congress was the Art and Cultural Night, which involved cultural presentations by the delegates of participating countries and dance performances by the winners of ‘Dance Works’ an anti-drug dance competition in Singapore which uses dance as a tool to promote the anti-drug message. Thailand, Korea and Mongolia were given special tokens for their well-produced presentations of dance, music and culture. Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore, was Guest of Honour at this ceremony.
The 3rd Asian Youth Congress was a meaningful and eventful occasion with the inclusion of a PDE Symposium and experiential workshops on Preventive Drug Edutainment and Life Skills, as well as numerous enrichment courses and outdoor activities. PDE experts region-wide came together to share with youth best PDE practices and discuss initiatives for implementation. This provided an excellent opportunity for the exchange of ideas and information, through networking. Also notable was the greater opportunity provided for youth empowerment and youth leadership in conducting the congress.
Armed with knowledge on drug abuse, ideas on PDE and valuable life skills, the youth participants were empowered to work towards developing a drug-free world and achieve their aspirations, dreams and goals.
Following up on the 3rd Asian Youth Congress cum Preventive Drug Education (PDE) Symposium, the Colombo Plan Drug Advisory Programme has updated the Asian Youth Network (AYN). This initiative is in keeping with DAP’s commitment to:
• Enhancing knowledge, perception and skills in youth with regard to drug abuse prevention;
• Enhancing networking among individuals and organisations in the Asian-Pacific region;
• Informing youth and adults about the current / future programmes in the region;
• Giving youth the opportunity to brainstorm relevant youth issues and propose ideas and solutions to drug abuse prevention and• Ensuring that countries share their effective programmes.
Youth, PDE officers, parents and concerned others can now browse through http://colombo-plan.org/dap/ayn/index.htmlto read the DAP’s quarterly e-newsletter, learn about illicit drugs and their effects, and discover what others are doing in this vibrant drug-free community. AYN is also an open forum for youth to express ideas and solutions to drug abuse prevention and promote networking and e-drug prevention among themselves.
A new attraction for the year 2005 is ‘My Youth Calendar’ highlighting an ‘anti-drug’ message. This colourful ‘youth-friendly’ calendar can now be downloaded and printed for personal use. In addition, the report of the II Asian Youth Congress has also been launched on the site. However, those who wish to obtain the report in CD format can contact the DAP.
The DAP encourages Asian Youth to join this ‘youth brigade against drugs’ which will enable them to use their zest, potential, power and ability to make a difference – and create a vibrant and drug-free world.