John Keells Foundation Continues to Combat Substance Abuse Among School Children Through Awareness Creation.

The Sri Lanka Anti-Narcotics Association has reported an alarming rise in substance abuse among school children in Sri Lanka, with the most concerning trend being drug experimentation occurring between the ages of 11 and 16 years. The heaviest drug users fall within the age bracket of 16 to 25 years. Mainly, the substances targeting school children are medications and sedatives laced with sweets and treats, which are being sold by dubious vendors near educational institutions. This devious approach aims to hook children on softer drugs at an early age, thereby creating demand for harder drugs like ice and heroin later on.

Recognising the critical need to address this pressing issue, the John Keells Foundation (JKF), the CSR entity of the John Keells Group, has been actively leading the way with its Substance Abuse Prevention Awareness Programme since its launch in 2020. The programme is designed to intervene early in the lives of school children, positively impacting their lives and preventing substance use and related behavioural problems.

In alignment with the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, JKF recently organised a school-based awareness programme in its Praja Shakthi location of Ja-Ela. The event, held in collaboration with the National Dangerous Drugs Control Board (NDDCB), was a success, aiming to educate and empower youth in combatting drug abuse and addiction through positive habits and lifestyle choices. On  28th June, 71 students from five different schools in the region participated in the programme, which focused on raising awareness about addiction, identifying strategies to mitigate addictive behaviour, and highlighting the grave dangers of drug abuse. The primary goal of JKF’s initiative is to create a drug-free and healthier community by educating the youth about the perils of substance abuse.

In addition to the awareness programme, JKF conducted an art competition involving 15 students. This creative exercise served as an opportunity to assess the students’ grasp of the knowledge shared during the awareness session. The location for the awareness programme, Ja-Ela, was chosen due to its identification as having a high prevalence of drug usage, as indicated by the latest reports from NDDCB.

As part of the commemoration of the International Day, JKF also launched a social media campaign under the theme “Together against drugs,” targeting parents of teenagers.

JKF’s commitment to mitigating substance abuse among children extends beyond this event. Since the launch of the Substance Abuse Prevention Awareness Programme in 2020, under the focus area of Health, JKF has actively conducted targeted awareness programmes for pre-school teachers, parents of pre-school children, and government officers in John Keells Praja Shakthi locations of Colombo 2, Hikkaduwa, and Ja-Ela, as well as community awareness in Colombo 2. Each year, a social media campaign is driven under a relevant theme to raise awareness of the dangers of drug abuse, signs to look for, and available help and support services. So far, over 29,098 individuals have been directly impacted through these proactive initiatives.

John Keells Foundation remains steadfast in its dedication to combat substance abuse among children, striving to create a safer and healthier future for the young generation of Sri Lanka.

John Keells Holdings PLC (JKH), is the largest conglomerate listed on the John Keells Holdings PLC (JKH), is the largest conglomerate listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange, operating with over 70 companies in 7 diverse industry sectors. With a history of over 150 years, John Keells Group provides employment to over 14,000 persons and has been ranked as Sri Lanka’s ‘Most Respected Entity’ for the last 18 Years by LMD magazine. John Keells Holdings PLC was ranked first for the third consecutive year in the ‘Transparency in Corporate Reporting Assessment’ by Transparency International Sri Lanka. Whilst being a full member of the World Economic Forum and a participant of the UN Global Compact, JKH drives its CSR vision of “Empowering the Nation for Tomorrow” through John Keells Foundation and through the social entrepreneurship initiative, ‘Plasticcycle’, which is a catalyst in significantly reducing plastic pollution in Sri Lanka.

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