YMCA mentors to help teens say no

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 August, 2009, 12:00am

The Chinese YMCA is launching an anti-drug programme in Eastern District that aims to tackle the drug problem among teenagers at its roots.

The government has given each district HK$500,000 to tackle youth drug use, and Eastern District will use the money to fund the Chinese YMCA's Soar Higher Project.

The scheme will use training programmes and a mentorship system to seek to stop youngsters from taking drugs, the co-ordinating secretary of Chinese YMCA's Chai Wan Centre, Yeung Kin-tong, said.

'We want to prevent teenagers, especially those who have a taste for drugs or are at risk of going astray, from becoming drug addicts,' Ms Yeung, a registered social worker, said. 'For those who have already developed the habit, we lack the medical knowledge to help and would send them to hospitals instead.'

The programme, which will run until June, consists of five activity groups with different focuses to polish teenagers' skills. A mentor will be assigned to each of the 150 participants. 'Through these activities we want to help teenagers to build up correct value sets that can help them to confidently say 'no' to drugs,' Ms Yeung said.

About 60 per cent of the youngsters that the centre dealt with had encountered drugs, she said.

Ms Yeung said it was important not to label drug takers. 'No youths would join or let others help them if we labelled the participants drug addicts,' she said.

The participants would be recruited through referral by various community groups, including social workers and schools. Ms Yeung said a few schools had already referred some student cases to the programme.

She said further government funding would be sought if the project was a success.