Kicking the habit by kicking goals

But a small group is aiming to change that by targeting the problem at it’s roots – youth.
The 2013 Pacific Youth and Sports Conference held in Noumea, New Caledonia saw over 700 young people from countries around the Pacific coming together to create projects tackling some of the major issues afflicting their communities.
For the Solomon Islands contingent it proved a chance to address the increasing rates of substance abuse at home, and especially in the capital of Honiara.
The group presented Youth Substance Striker – Kicking the Habit by Kicking Goals to the three-person judges panel on the final day of the conference, and the strong project earned them one of two Unicef awards.
Leading the delegation is Andre Tipoki of the Solomon Islands Government’s youth department who says with a lot of young people prone to being caught up in the challenges of living in a country like Solomon Islands; he’s impressed by his group’s ability to want to make a difference.
“I was really amazed by these young people themselves. It’s was an amazing experience for me watching these youths build a project confidently,” Tipoki says.
“They have put things together, showed their skills and an ability to give back to the community what they have come to learn over these five days.
“I have to give them credit, they’ve put so much effort into trying to address the issue that they believe is facing youth people in Solomon Islands, and especially Honiara.”
The project aims to reduce the number of people abusing drugs and alcohol by raising awareness of the negative effects of continued use through sports. More specifically the goal is to target five of Honiara’s most at-risk squatter communities.
“This is one of the priority areas that is lacking support from the Government,” Tipoki says.
“Coming through this process and having the youth voices especially caught the donors attention. Securing funding at a high level meeting like this is not easy, it’s quite unbelievable actually.
“But we believe in what we do and we are really looking forward to implementing this project.”
Tipoki says he hopes the delegation can continue working closely with Unicef on the development and implementation of the event, which he expects to see launched around April 2014.
“We need to get organised and talk to the funder about the processes that are available, the implemented strategies that are available and also provide more information to them because we’ve only given a summary so far.”

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