Ten schools were visited in the Durban area in partnership with Toyota SA, on the 4th and 5th of February 2020. The theme for the two days was “there is a road that seems right to a person, but the end of that road is death.”
The message shared was aimed primarily at alerting learners to the fact that the decisions that they have and will make during their younger years, will have far reaching and long-lasting consequences in their lives, many of which they have most probably not considered.
Schools visited on the day ranged from well equipped, well organized and well-disciplined schools, to schools where it seemed that a complete breakdown in order, discipline and respect for authority were present.
However, as is often encountered, unruly learners became quiet and listened attentively once the programme commenced, more especially when first-hand testimonies of drug abuse and criminality were being presented by members of the CYPSA team.
As one principal stated in feedback, the presentation ‘hit the right note’ with learners, as the presenter was a young person who themselves used to use drugs and had been helped to find a way out.
CYPSA now possesses 10 years of experience of working within South African schools and has visited over 5,500 schools across South Africa. The peer-to-peer approach in interacting with learners of school going age, has consistently proven itself to be the most effective method of effectively reaching South African youth.
CYPSA is uniquely positioned to facilitate peer-to-peer interaction in such a manner, as those who are assisted via our programmes are then able to reach out to their peers who still struggle with drug addiction or other challenges, by sharing their own experiences directly with those of a similar age.
The core message of the life stories that were shared on these two days, was that making the wrong choices whilst young leads an individual down a road in life that they never anticipated, and that the consequences are severe for making the wrong choices during your teenage years.
It was also highlighted to learners by all who shared their life stories, that the path they had been down on life started with bad choices that seemed almost insignificant at the time, such as starting to smoke cigarettes or marijuana, neglecting school work and becoming rebellious and disobedient to elders.
Absolute silence on the part of learners during presentations was (and always is) a clear indication that they were assimilating the information that was being presented, more particularly so when most of the schools visited have between 1000 – 2000 learners enrolled and large groups were in attendance on the day.
Questions asked and answered at the end of many of the sessions also indicated that the information was assimilated and learners felt comfortable to speak and interact openly with CYPSA members, even in the presence of their teachers and peers.
At some schools, learners came forward to seek help and to ask questions or for counselling. Further, contact details for our Restoration Programme were left at all of the schools visited, thus creating a channel between these schools and our programmes, for learners who are in need due to drug addiction or who are facing other challenges.
In addition to these schools being made aware that ongoing support is available to them free of charge, printed materials handed out on the day would have travelled home with the learners and will have been be viewed by family members and relatives, who may themselves need our help with drug-related or other challenges.
This literature which includes our contact details therefore further creates a channel between these communities and CYPSA programmes, which reaches far beyond the schools visited alone.
The feedback received on our School Visitation Forms was decidedly positive and an almost unanimous request for more visits by CYPSA is an indication of the success of this two-day outreach, more especially when these requests come from principals themselves.
All of the schools visited are situated in areas known to be rife with drug dealing and drug abuse, as well as high levels of criminality. At the time of this outreach, CYPSA had already enrolled 125 intakes from Wentworth, 841 intakes from Umlazi, 33 intakes from Umbumbulu, and 21 intakes from Merebank, in our 21-day Restoration Programme.
As one of the schools visited indicated when they stated that drug dealers come to their school at break time to sell drugs, social ills are influencing learners even during school hours. Another school stated in feedback that “like all of the schools in the area” they experience the problem of learners who are abusing drugs.
Almost unanimous requests on the part of principals and educators for follow-up visits, indicates their desperate need for assistance from third parties in trying to educate and protect learners within such a hostile social environment.
CYPSA continues to do all we can to ensure that the youth of South Africa have the greatest possible chance of avoiding the pitfalls that surround them, whilst continuing to provide effective programmes to assist those who have already found themselves caught up in the negative influences that are rife in their surroundings. We look forward to visiting your area!