Impact of life skills programmes on drug use prevention in SEE presented on the CND

14 March 2018, Vienna, Austria: Lions Clubs International Foundation in collaboration with UNODC organized a side event "Impact of life skills education programmes in schools on prevention: Experience in South East Europe and Latin America" on the margins of the 61 st session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

The event was co-sponsored by the Governments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia and presented the positive effects of the Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence programme as piloted in South East European region since 2010 as well as the plans to replicate this positive experience in Central America.

In South East Europe, to date, over 350 teachers were trained on, and over 6,000 students received Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence support in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia.

The impact of the Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence programme was clearly documented showing positive outcomes on reducing prevalence of current use as well as intention to continue using alcohol, tobacco or cannabis in the intervention compared to the control group of students who did not receive the programme.

Further to the documented scientific evidence, representatives from the Ministry of Education of Montenegro presented the values attributed to the Lions Quest programme for the targeted groups from their experience in the 17 selected elementary schools. It was highlighted that the programme managed to gather substantive information on cultural adaptation specificities, which will enable more productive expansion of the programme across the country.

The event also featured the voices of stakeholders at the ministerial and school administration and education level, parents and students benefiting from the programme in South East Europe through an especially made video documentary.

Most valuably, a student from an elementary school in Bosnia and Herzegovina (arguable the youngest CND panelist to date), who personally benefited from the Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence programme in his school, shared his views with the audience stating that the benefits of the programme are evident in helping students "avoid and overcome stressful situations, peer pressure, family difficulties and even more". The student emphasized the negative role of media and the impact on substance use as aggressive. He however pointed out that this programme and similar programmes are strategically developing prevention skills and are identified as crucial. The student recapped in his closing remarks: "It's your responsibility to implement the programmes that make differences, and I say this is one of them".

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