Fearing that preaching to youngsters about the ill-effects of liquor, tobacco and drugs would backfire, an NGO did the next best thing last year: get like-minded youth between the age of 15 and 20 together and make them talk to their peers about such issues.
And, thus, was born ‘Youth Against LTD’ (liquor, tobacco and drugs) — an initiative of NGO Nashabandi Mandal, Maharashtra, in which youngsters themselves conduct various activities at their respective institutes to create awareness. Although the NGO took out a rally last October, in which about 3,000 youngsters participated, as part of an initiative of Youth Against LTD, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan is expected to formally launch the initiative on October 1.
The initial primary focus of the group was to wean youngsters off alcohol and drugs, but it has now begun to concentrate on students’ addiction to gutka.
Varsha Vidya Vilas, general secreatry of Nashabandi Mandal, Maharashtra, says, “We were under the impression that youngsters are more interested in smoking cigarettes, drinking or taking drugs, considering the low social status that gutka consumption is associated with. But we conducted a survey to know the real picture. After talking to tobacco sellers and students, we realised many children are consuming gutka, which is more addictive than other tobacco products. This has become the focal point of our campaign.”
As part of their initiatives, members of Youth Against LTD will visit different educational institutes to conduct activities to awareness about the ill-effects of any addictive substance. During such activities, like-minded students will be identified to carry forward similar programmes.
“With the help of the principal of the institute, a committee comprising students will be created in that college/school. The number of members of the committee will vary, depending on the student strength at the institute. The onus will be on these committees to conduct awareness programmes through posters and street plays, among others, for the whole year,” explains Dukhande.
Some of the programmes have already begun, with students zeroing in on celebrations to drive home their message. This Valentine’s Day, for example, students made posters about finding non-addicted partners.