Children across Barbados have been urged to love themselves first; to stand-up for what they believe in; and remember that they have the ability to say “yes” and “no” to situations in which they find themselves.
Speaking from “the heart” with the winners in the National Council on Substance Abuse’s (NCSA) Bee Drug Free art and writing contest prize-giving ceremony on Wednesday, Minister of Home Affairs, Information and Public Affairs, Wilfred Abrahams, urged children to report those who tried to sway them from doing right to someone in authority.
“Anybody who is encouraging you to disobey your parents is an idiot, and they mean no good; they are your enemy. Anybody who is trying to force you to use drugs is an idiot, they’re up to no good; they are your enemy.
“No one will love you more than your parents love you, all of you who are here with your mom or your dad or your big sister, they’re supporting you because they love you. If somebody is trying to get you to turn against them and do something that you know is wrong, that person is not your friend. Go and report it to your mother, father; report it to a teacher; reported it to somebody,” he advised.
He also warned students that anyone who tried to encourage them to use drugs that was not authorised by their parent or doctor was not their friend.
Mr. Abrahams also urged them to be just as wary of legal substances as they were about illegal substances. “Anything that you use other than was intended, or you use more than you need to, you are abusing. You can abuse legal things; you can abuse Panadol; you can abuse anything that you can get your hands on. If you use it in a way that it was not intended, or more than you need to, that is abuse,” he explained.
He told the competitors that he hoped every time they wrote “say no to drugs” or “make the right choice”, they did so while paying attention to what they were actually saying.
“In competing in this competition, you’ve made a pledge. You made a promise. You have held yourself out and said this is my work and this is my message, you cannot pull back from that. So, all of you are here, and you are now examples. You’re now ambassadors, … you will now be the face and faces of the National Council on Substance Abuse. It is a heavy responsibility,” the Minister stated.
Acting Deputy Manager of the NCSA, Makeada Bourne, also urged the students not to take the work they submitted lightly.
She added that the NCSA would be using their work going forward to spread the message of Bee Drug Free across communities.
Nailah Browne captured the first prize for the poster competition, while Aidan Jackson and Naizihah Webb won the second and third prize, respectively. In poetry, Dionte Francois placed first, while Riciann Alexander came second, and Takara Watson, third.
The Best Short Story prize went to Kenola Greenidge, while Leandra Durant claimed the second prize and Shareece Hunte collected the third. All first place winners received a laptop.