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The City of Johannesburg’s Sport and Recreation held a Sport Against Drugs programme at Eastbank Hall in Alexandra recently in collaboration with the departments of Social Development, Health, Alex Local Drug Forum and SANCA.

For many youngsters, the use of alcohol, drugs, or other substances such as habit-forming activities like cigarette smoking is simply a part of growing up.

“Many of them experiment with these substances only a few times before discontinuing consumption, while others may continue to use them on a more frequent basis, which results in addiction,” said Sport and Recreation Project Manager Dipuo Chauke.

Bovet Primary and Iphutheng Primary schools were invited to participate in the programme.

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, most young people have lost interest in hobbies, leading to a lower quality of life. Many young people have turned to alcohol and drugs as a coping tool.

Like adults, young people use alcohol and other substances to ‘unwind’ or ‘feel better’. They may, however, also be using these substances for other reasons such as rebelling against their parents or blending in with their fellow peers.

“The City of Joburg, Sports and Recreation invited us to help expose our youngsters about the dangers of drug and substance abuse and also how important it is for them to stay away from such substances,” said Thulani Jomo Ncube, a volunteer at a boys’ development organisation called Give Them a Purpose.

“Our organisation strives to address social concerns within society while attempting to change the negative mindsets of young people for them to achieve better, have a purpose in life, and keep away from the streets and all the wrong things they may encounter,” he said.

Due to the use of illegal substances in Alexandra, Lifeline and SANCA received a significant number of calls concerning depressed individuals.

The aim of the Youth Dialogue was to enhance the youth’s knowledge about the prevalence of substance misuse, youth rights, and means for the youth to make their views heard by leaders.

“Today I learnt how important it is to stay away from drugs and alcohol as they can lead to addiction. Instead of engaging in such substances, I learnt that there are other activities to take part in that are much better than doing drugs and alcohol. Besides after-school classes and going to the library, you can engage in sports such as netball and feel free,” said Khensani Maluleke, a pupil at a nearby primary school in the Alexandra neighborhood.

The youth discussed and voiced their concerns. They also presented solutions regarding substance abuse.

“I just want to say thank you for the knowledge and for being welcomed with open arms,” said Nomfundo Mbuleka, who is a pupil and beneficiary of Give Them a Purpose. - Written by Ntombifuthi Junerose Nkosi