By Wale Joseph, Lagos
The Federal Government has launched the ‘I Choose Life’ campaign, in partnership with some stakeholders, to support youths to cope with challenges they face from disruption to the life they are used to as a result of the lockdown put in place to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, who took to twitter to explain the rationale for the launch of the campaign, noted that “The past few weeks have been extremely disruptive for most of us. We have all taken a hit in one way or the other. Our traditional lifestyle is predominantly community-oriented.
”Young people are at the stage of their lives where schooling, socialising, entertainment, sports and relaxation form a part of their daily routine and are at the core of the expression of their youthfulness.
“In the past few weeks and in the next few months it seems that routine is being defined not by their choice but by the realities of a pandemic that is ravaging the world until a solution is found.
”I have spoken to many young people and feel their pain and the toll it is taking on their mental wellness. For many, there is boredom, a sense of anxiety, hopelessness and uncertainty for the future.
”The usual outlets to let off stress and steam have been disrupted and it gives a sense of gloom. I am quite concerned about the effect on the mental, physical and emotional well-being of our young people at this time.
“If there is one lesson that we all agree has come out of the last few weeks, it is the fact that we value life. The whole world is now focused on protecting citizens from COVID-19. So, if we do value our lives, we must place a premium on the quality of it.
“All over the world, young Nigerians are easily recognised as some of the smartest and hardworking set of individuals. Sports, entertainment, intellectual geniuses abound amongst the Nigerian youth of today.
”The Ministry of Youth and Sports Development launched the ‘I Choose Life, Say No to Drugs Campaign’ to educate and enable Nigeria’s youth to reject illicit drugs. This goal includes preventing drug use and encouraging occasional users to discontinue use.
”The evidence proves that the earlier children start to experiment with drugs, the more likely they are to develop drug dependence later in life. As such, the campaign’s primary prevention efforts will address all young people as well as the adults who influence them.
”There is convincing evidence that carefully planned mass media campaigns can reduce substance abuse by countering false perceptions that drug use is normative and by influencing personal beliefs that motivate drug use.
”The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development is partnering other organisations, including the @IChooseLife_NG to ensure that the media programmes complement other community and school-based anti-drug programs, when consistent messages are conveyed through a variety of channels and in several different contexts.”