Not just doctors and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), now city schools have also stepped on the gas to raise addiction awareness amongst adolescents.
The recent ‘chillar party’ bust at River View hotel in Koregaon Park, where 800 underaged adolescents were being served alcohol, has inspired a slew of activities including workshops and de-addiction drives by doctors and rehab centres targeting adolescents and their parents. And now, even city schools are not far-off and have taken up the activity seriously.
For example, take Baner-based Orchid School where addiction awareness is a formal part of life skills orientation programme.
Preeti Parekh, counsellor and life skills facilitator at the school, said that one hour per week is dedicated to addiction awareness programme for standard VIII students for an entire semester.
“We take these sessions very seriously and have a proper structure through which we impart life skills to children. In the first part, we talk to children about peer pressure, importance of saying no, staying away and recognising the trap of addiction. We then take children for field visits to Muktangan Rehabilitation Centre where they learn that addiction doesn’t just happen to adults, but children as well,” she said.
“We also get a rehabilitated addict to talk to students and answers their questions. In the fourth part, advertising experts teach children how to make effective posters and campaigns on de-addiction and encourage them to put their thoughts on such posters,” added Parekh.
Muktangan Rehabilitation Centre director Mukta Puntambekar said that while some schools like Orchid School have introduced addiction awareness as a dedicated part of their curriculum, some schools have recently started inviting experts to talk to adolescents.
“After the ‘chillar party’ bust, some city schools either invited us to their campus or brought their students to visit our centre,” she said.
Aksharnandan School located off Senapati Bapat Road is another school where addiction awareness has been taken up recently.
Former principal and incharge of higher secondary classes, Sandhya Hingne said that for the last two years the school has been conducting ‘peer awareness’ sessions for standard IX students.
“We invite a recovered adolescent addict who talks to children from the heart. They tell in detail how they fell into the trap, got addicted and its effect on the family, besides the health problems they faced because of addiction, how their self-respect decreased and the journey to rehab centre. It serves as an eye-opener for the students,” she said.
Hingne added that after the workshop, students are asked to write down short notes on their experience and lessons they are taking back home. She said that students are counselled on how to recognise similar symptoms in friends and peers, and rather than shunning them, help them overcome their problems.