Drug abuse pose a great threat to the humanity all over, mainly because it affects the very live- wire of the society: the youth. Records show that drug problem is truly alarming particularly to the youth, the most vulnerable to the menace.
To address this alarming drug problem particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, the Colombo Plan Drug Advisory Programme (CPDAP) has been organizing the “Asian Youth Congress”, a large gathering of youth leaders from Asia and Pacific region against drug abuse. This programme is one of the biggest annual events of the CPDAP that unites young educators and future youth leaders in the field of preventive education and share new information and fresh ideas on current drug trends.
The primary objective of the Congress is to build and maintain a global network through which effective resilience against drug abuse and lessons learnt are shared. It aimed at providing knowledge and understanding of illicit drugs and its ill effects among youth, address new issues, share information, facilitate action plans, and identify strategies that would empower youth leaders in prevention campaign. The AYC also function as platform to experiment innovative ways to utilize edutainment cum cultural shows to disseminate the drug prevention messages to the youth.
The CPDAP started to implement this initiative for the first time in Bali, Indonesia in 2002, 2nd in Maldives, 3rd in Singapore, 4th in Penang, Malaysia, 5th in Chiang Mai, Thailand and 6th in Bali, Indonesia and the 7th in Palawan, Philippines.
Participants are provided with activities that will help develop personal and life skills including communication, self-esteem, assertion and decision-making, as well as enhancing their leadership skills on how to relate and deal with the menace. Current trends and updates on drug abuse situation in the region are also presented in the Asian Youth Congress.
Thus, young people, a particularly vulnerable at-risk population come together every year in some Asian countries, share their common concerns, formulate an action plan as per the best practices in drug abuse prevention such as Y2Y (Youth to Youth- peer led intervention programmes), youth led sustainable initiatives etc. and carry out the follow up activities in their respective areas.
The Youth Congress always end with an Art and Culture night, which is intended to inculcate cultural values in drug abuse prevention and to highlight the cultural ethos which are unique to the region. Focusing on young people from early childhood through adolescence has long been recognized as central to an effective drug abuse prevention strategy.
The Asian Youth Congress has also resulted in many smaller initiatives and in-country youth congresses like Pakistan Youth Congress, Bangladesh Youth Congress, and Afghan Youth Congress, besides each hosting country of AYC continuing with their national youth congress each year. Thus, the AYC’ impact has been far reaching.
The Asian Youth Congress has also initiated Asian Youth Network (AYN), a web based portal which provided a platform for exchange of views, experiences, sharing of expertise and updating one’s knowledge on best practices from time to time. The network keeps growing, so also the Y2Y drug prevention campaign.