Child-friendly and rights-based drug education

Ronaldo Rivera, Cadac Technical Adviser, Ma. Inez Feria, NoBox speaker, and Dr. Apple Guiao-Alvarez, CAID member
Ronaldo Rivera, Cadac Technical Adviser, Ma. Inez Feria, NoBox speaker, and Dr. Apple Guiao-Alvarez, CAID member

Amaya Lay in Mindanao partnered with CAID at Ateneo de Davao University, Bahay Tuluyan, NoBox Philippines, and Save the Children Philippines to organize a Training of Trainers program on Child-Friendly and Rights-Based Drug Education.

I am grateful to have participated in this training from September 11 to 13, 2023, at the World Palace Hotel in Ecoland, Davao City, contributing to children’s protection in the fight against illicit drugs.

On the first training day, we delved into human and children’s rights. We actively participated in practical exercises to deepen our comprehension, such as drawing representations of adults and children while identifying their needs and responsible persons to help attain them. This engaging activity was enjoyable and educational, reinforcing the idea that various individuals, groups, and institutions play crucial roles in safeguarding children’s rights.

On the second day, September 12, 2023, we delved into basic drug education, which I found refreshingly easy, particularly for those new to drug abuse education. As someone accustomed to using medical terminology to discuss drug abuse effects, I appreciated the approach, which made it understandable for everyone. The associated activity in Module 2 was engaging and had a child-friendly simplicity, making it enjoyable and relatable for children.

Also, participants engaged in a puzzle activity where we had to name an image and share some information about it, focusing on substances like marijuana, shabu, and rugby. The absence of pressure made this activity great; we simply had to convey the basics.

In our case, it was marijuana, and it was fascinating to exchange ideas. I believe this enjoyable and pressure-free activity would also resonate with children. It served as a reminder that understanding the harmful effects of drugs is the key to preventing substance abuse.

In the afternoon of the same day, we received further lectures to enhance our abilities to seek assistance, develop problem-solving skills related to substance use issues, understand the importance of helping peers, and grasp the responsibilities of those responding to substance use.

I particularly enjoyed a dramatization exercise where a child facing poverty-related problems turns to marijuana to cope with family economic issues. The most valuable thing about Module 2 is that it emphasized that we are an authority on our own life experiences.

On the final day, I had a bittersweet feeling, as we all knew that it might be unlikely for us to cross paths again after the seminar. We came from diverse institutions, including academe, private and government agencies, and organizations dedicated to children’s well-being.

However, despite the sadness, our spirits were uplifted as we immensely enjoyed learning about child-friendly drug literacy.

In the morning, we gained a valuable understanding of teamwork and building strong connections. We also delved into why certain activities are deemed illegal or prohibited by the law and examined the varying lengths of imprisonment associated with different legal provisions. While I had some prior knowledge, I did learn new things that I hope to share with friends who advocate for a “no to illegal drugs” stance.

In the afternoon, our energy remained high as we actively engaged in activities focused on understanding safe spaces for children in our communities. We identified and defined these secure environments, recognized the importance of collaboration and mutual assistance among children, and understood how child protection should be integrated into our communities and society.

The “Atras-Abante” (Step Back, Step Forward) activity was particularly memorable. It engaged us and served as a valuable tool to reinforce what we had learned during the three-day seminar.

During the seminar, I gained a profound understanding that children should not bear responsibility for their parents’ misdeeds or be burdened by actions related to drug abuse that are not their own. I strongly advocate for these children to receive the necessary interventions and support because they are most affected when parents use illegal drugs. It is crucial to assist them in avoiding further harm, as they may be vulnerable to other forms of violence, abuse, and exploitation.

I am genuinely grateful to have attended this seminar. I would like to express my gratitude to Ma’am Ma. Inez Feria of NoBox Philippines, Mario Vargas of Amaya, Janet L. Apara of Save the Children Philippines, Mary Grace P. Monocillo, MSSW, RSW-CAID director, and Loys Suamen.

We all learned a great deal from each of you; it was a wonderful learning experience. Now, we are well-prepared to implement Child-Friendly and Rights-Based Drug Education.

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