The School of Hope is a place of learning where we value HOPE FAMILY TRANSFORMATION RESPONSIBILITY AND GIVING. We are education-junkies, sold out to breaking the cycle of crime, poverty and unemployment by giving every person the chance to complete their education. There is nothing more important that we can do for South Africa today!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Confronting the Dragon

How did Daryn Jones, our social worker, get 15 of our learners to volunteer to be trained by SANCA as peer counselors at School of Hope?

Photo by Masixole Feni
“In April the School of Hope had a focus week: Drug Education and Awareness. A survey that was conducted at the School of Hope revealed that the majority of students have witnessed adult family members using drugs in front of them. Those learners who have tried using drugs or are still currently using drugs, did so for the first time before they were 15 years old. The most common drugs identified in the survey were Methamphetamine (Tik), Heroine (Unga) and Marijuana (Dagga).
Adolescence is a significant period where there is rapid development between childhood and adulthood, involving complex cognitive development. The prefrontal cortex is mainly responsible for this development. It allows a teenager to be able to start thinking in more of an abstract manner, using a wider perspective of understanding and reasoning. The thoughts, ideas and concepts developed during this period greatly influence the type of adult the adolescent will become. A study conducted in 2012 by the University of Cape Town and the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa titled ‘Brain imaging illuminates the impact of addictive drugs on the brain’,  found that Heroin, Tik and alcohol are all responsible for the reduction of cell development in the prefrontal cortex. This means that drugs can damage or impair the part of the brain responsible for social and moral functioning of an individual.

In order to educate and create awareness about the impact of drugs and alcohol the school hosted two guest speakers who are recovering addicts to share their life story with the students. The students hung on their every word, often relating many of the life events and situations that were shared back into their own lives in the Cape Flats community.
Then SANCA (South African National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence) came to the school and educated the students about the physical and psychological effects of using drugs and spoke about how using Tik has been a variable linked directly to the increase of contracting HIV due to the physiological effects the drug has on a person.

Drug Education Week ended with 15 of our students volunteering to be trained by SANCA as peer counselors in their school. This means they will be able to pick up the signs and symptoms of their peers who may be using or abusing drugs. They will be able to do informal counseling and know how to communicate drug information to their peers as well as how they can go about accessing the relevant treatment.
School of Hope will also be having NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings once a week where students who are affected by drugs can share anonymously in a group and receive support and counseling related directly to the various affects drugs can have on an individual, a family and a community.

(Daryn Jones)

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