Teen counsellors help to push anti-drugs message

Awareness Programmes in Substance Abuse (APISA) volunteers and mentors.

Mitchell’s Plain high school pupils who graduated from a peer-counselling course last week used song, drama and poetry to describe what they had learnt about the dangers of substance abuse and other daily problems faced by teens.

The pupils from Tafelsig High School, Cedar High School of the Arts in Rocklands and Beacon Hill High School in Beacon Valley received certificates for completing the year-long course run by Awareness Programmes in Substance Abuse (Apisa), a non-profit organisation started in Mitchell’s Plain in 2018 to address problems stemming from substance abuse.

During the graduation ceremony, held at Cedar High School of the Arts, the teens presented skits dealing with drug use, teenage pregnancy, domestic violence and disrespect to teachers and parents.

Apisa director Shireen Prins said the programme encouraged teens to be confident, strong and independent individuals while showing them what a future free of alcohol and drugs looked like.

The 67 teens graduating from the course will help their peers to steer clear of substance abuse and make a positive contribution to their school environment.

Ms Prins said the programme was made possible by corporate sponsorship and support from principals, teachers and pupils.

Pupil Tameeca Saunders, from Tafelsig High School, said: “I have changed a lot. Every programme helped me be a better person. It helped me to guide others.”

Pupil Zeenat Grey, from Beacon Hill High School, recited A Circle, a poem she wrote about meeting new people. “A circle of strangers is what we started out as. We came together with all of our good and all of our bad, only having some idea of what this journey had in store for us,” she said.

“We learnt to welcome new experiences, to appreciate everything we have, to aspire to be a giver that never stops giving like Auntie Shireen,” she said, referring to Ms Prins.

Zeenat completed the poem by saying the strangers became friends with a relationship that would be infinite like a circle.

Faith Seconds, from Tafelsig High School, also read a poem, I Am Drugs: “You lie to your mother. You steal from your dad. When you see them in tears, you should feel bad, but you forget your morals and how you were raised.

“I take kids from parents and parents from kids. I turn people from God and separate friends.

“I’ll take everything from you, your looks and your pride. I’ll be with you always. Give up everything, family and friends.”

Faith ended the poem, saying, that as a peer counsellor she chose to say no to drugs.

Beacon Hill High School peer counselors.
Tafelsig High School peer counsellors.
Peer counsellors at Cedar High School of the Arts, in Rocklands.