Sixty-seven Mitchell’s Plain high school pupils received certificates this week and last week after completing a training course on counselling peers with substance-abuse problems.
Shireen Prins, founder and director of Awareness Programmes in Substance Abuse (APISA), ran the course for pupils from Glendale and Beacon Hill high schools and Cedar High School of the Arts.
Pupils who took part said the course showed them how they had to deal with their own personal challenges before they could help others.
Keyondre Eiman, 17, from Beacon Hill High School, said she had learned to communicate her feelings.
“I went through a lot of things before I started the programme, and it wasn’t easy for me to open up and share.
“I would just keep to myself and push people away,” she said, adding that her message to young people is: “You are not alone. Forgive yourselves.”
Ms Prins said everyone is affected by some form of abuse, whether it is substance abuse, domestic violence or discrimination.
“Whether I am experiencing it or someone close to me is going through something, we need to talk about it,” she said.
The pupils from the three schools have been keeping in touch on WhatsApp since completing the course earlier this year.
“In most cases, pupils either keep things to themselves or are inclined to speak to a friend,” Ms Prins said.
“The pupils have gone through some tough stuff, and hopefully, with this programme, they are able to get some help.”
Greg Kannemeyer, principal of Beacon Hill High School, said pupils faced a myriad challenges.
“All we can do is give them hope, be here for them and encourage them to keep on trying,” he said.