Sri Lanka’s premier cement manufacturer, Insee Cement recently joined hands with National Dangerous Drugs Control Board (NDDCB) and Sri Lanka Police to conduct an effective drug awareness campaign that reached over 1,700 school children aged from 14 to 18 in 23 schools in Aruakkalu, Puttalam and Galle.
Officials from the Sri Lanka Police, District Secretariat and Municipal Council from the respective areas participated in the one-day programme designed to educate and enrich the lives of young people in and around the communities, particularly in areas where we do business.
A forum theatre methodology was used to stimulate high engagement among the audience,by using an innovative method of embedding communications through performing arts, in order to bring a refreshing change for the students from the conventional lecturing style. While making the topic more interesting and meaningful, the programme succeeded in educating the students on the dangers of drug use, while re-enforcing the perks of not using drugs, alcohol and tobacco, in adopting a healthy lifestyle.
Insee was motivated to launch the programme as a part of the company’s corporate responsibility endeavoursand mission to build brighter futures, as it became evident that drug addiction in the country was increasing and it was necessary to educate vulnerable school children and alert the general public about the danger.
Insee CementCEO NandanaEkanayake said, “As a socially conscious company we strive to contribute to uplifting and enriching our community by educating and motivating the youth in particular, to lead a healthy and meaningful life. This initiative has proven to be successful, adding value to the nation. We will continue to empower the Sri Lankan youth in building their brighter futures through such community engagements”.
Insee Cement, Sustainability and Communications Director Farzana J. Khan, said “It is important that we engage with the youth through an interactive medium of communications when addressing social issues. We need to get their attention and interest. The methodology used, which is known as forum theatre, helped to engage with large audiences in Galle, Puttalam and Aruakkalu. Our aim is to achieve a strongerbehavioural change among the youth –encouraging themto say no to drugs.”
At the drug awareness workshop held in Galle, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Galle District ChandanaAlahakoon stated, “Don’t be fooled by the world of drugs” and urged students to, “have the strength and determination to say no and develop the mental and physical strength to look after them.”
The plot of the play revolved around a talented school prefect ‘Akila’ who was made to do dangerous drugs and cigarettes by the guidance of bad friends. A good friend warned him but his bad friends convinced him otherwise leading to his mother and siblings unfortunate and untimely death. The lack of guidance on his mother’s role, who thought that irregular alcohol consumption is not a serious issue, revealed how the lack of parental counsel leads to children being led astray.
The programme continued with the scenes of the play being replayed and students in the audience being given the opportunity to share their opinions regarding the scenes. A girl scout from a leading Convent School in Galle during the drug awareness workshop in the Southern province, suggested how if she was in a similar situation as Akila, she would try to stay away from such a group of friends, while heeding advice from other children who have fallen into similar critical situations. A student from Olsen’s School also shared his opinions that he would try to educate Akila on the negative repercussions of using drugs.
Resource persons contributing to the programme included K.D. IndikaNalin Prasad from NDDCB who warned that the ignorance of mothers and absence of role models for the children is escalating the drug menace. D. Algewatte, OIC of the Women’s and Child Bureau unit, in Galle which comes under the Sri Lanka Police, exposed the issue’s steady progress where, new drugs are being introduced to school children by the local drug sellers. “We have even taken Grade-five students into custody for being in possession of alcohol” she revealed. Citizens who are aware of activities that endanger children are requested to call 011 8591452 and report these affairs to the authorities.