U.S. Government Raises Drug and Violence Awareness

Girl speaking to audience.As part of their anti-violence campaign, The Foundation for the Autonomy and Development of the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua (FADCANIC) held 44 lively high school debates over the past three months, focused on the topics of violence and drug prevention. The debates are part of FADCANIC’s three-year anti-violence and drugs media campaign “Change Now. Let’s Do It!” in the North and South Caribbean Autonomous Regions and the Managua area. FADCANIC is implementing the campaign – with support from the U.S. Embassy’s Office of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs – to create awareness and mobilize public opinion in favor of family and community actions for the prevention of youth violence and drug abuse.

U.S. Ambassador Laura Dogu said, “This project is a perfect example of the sort of activity that can foment positive changes in society by encouraging communities, and youth in particular, to think about causes and solutions to violence and drug abuse.” During the debates, teams of high school students engaged in rigorous debate on topics such as violence against women, violent behavior in school, and drug usage. A total of 245 high school students from 28 schools participated.  Debate winners will later have the opportunity to be trained by FADCANIC to become community promoters on the prevention of drug abuse and violence. Chief of Party for the “Change Now. Let’s Do It” Campaign, Kenia Sanchez said, “These debates have projected young voices full of enthusiasm and a desire to end drug use and violence in their communities. This program promotes a culture of non-violence and peace driven by student leaders.” During the 44 debates, more than 5,000 audience members were entertained by energetic hosts who gave out prizes for correctly answering violence and prevention questions, songs and dances performed by fellow students, and debate moderators who summed up each topic for the students to further deepen the discussion. Each debate had three expert judges on the topics of violence and drug prevention. The debates were also broadcast on local television.

The “Change Now. Let’s Do It” project involves multi-media communication and community mobilization on key themes of prevention of violence and drug abuse customized for an audience on both the Caribbean and Pacific sides of Nicaragua. Campaign materials include  twelve video documentaries, an 84-chapter radio series in the four languages of the campaign (Spanish, Miskitu, Ulwa, and Creole), twelve television spots focused on information about different types of violence, information sheets on prevention of youth violence and drug abuse, and a website to access information related to key messages from the campaign. In addition, FADCANIC formed 38 communal and municipal committees that will propose and promote a series of local actions to prevent youth violence and drug abuse for a range of stakeholders in the communities.

Overall, this project will reach approximately 700,000 people living in rural and urban areas of the North and South Caribbean Autonomous Regions of Nicaragua and the Managua area. To access campaign materials, please go tohttp://cambiaahora.com/.