September 20, 2023 11:58 pm

DUTCH QUARTER — On Friday, September 15th, 2023, Christian Faith Ministries International in Dutch Quarter hosted a critical session entitled "Bringing Awareness on Substances." This event brought together community members, parents, and experts to address the pressing issue of youth substance abuse and violence and the importance of youth awareness.

The guest speakers for the evening, representing two departments under the Ministry of Justice, shared invaluable insights and expertise on this critical topic. Dr. Tasheena Thomas, Director of Turning Point, and Inspector Felix Richards, Community Police Officer of KPSM, delivered compelling messages during the event. To everyone's surprise, the Honorable Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson graced the occasion with her presence, demonstrating her unwavering commitment to addressing the critical issue of youth substance abuse and violence.

Dr. Tasheena Thomas, Director of Turning Point, discussed the various drugs affecting our community and schools. She emphasized the changing patterns of substance use, from nicotine vaping and marijuana to synthetic drugs like molly and ecstasy. Dr. Thomas also highlighted the dangers of cocaine, crack, and the emerging narcotic, isotonitazene (iso). She stressed the importance of parents paying attention to behavioral changes in their children and the need for accurate education on substance use. She underlined, "Marijuana is a drug, and our community is often misguided on the truth about what it does to our mental health. All drugs are deadly, and seeking help with addiction is nothing to be ashamed of."

Inspector Felix Richards, Community Police Officer of KPSM, expressed his gratitude for the community's support during the presentation. Inspector Richards outlined five key pillars to address youth substance abuse:

  1. Parents' Role: Highlighting the importance of returning to traditional parenting values and guidance within the home.
  2. Schools: Innovative and comprehensive educational approaches that nurture creativity and foster holistic development.
  3. Government: Emphasis on the need for government initiatives that strengthen the social fabric and empower families to create stable and nurturing environments.
  4. Churches: Spiritual institutions were highlighted as vital in uniting and fortifying communities, serving as pillars of support and solidarity.
  5. Police: Law enforcement should evolve into mentors, big brothers, and coaches to our youth, beyond their traditional enforcement role.
  6. Business: The business community can create job opportunities like a summer camp job or weekend within their own community where they conduct business

Minister Richardson also shared her thoughts on this event, stating, "Youth substance abuse is a pressing issue that demands our collective attention. The insights provided by Dr. Thomas and Inspector Richards underscore the urgency of our response. We must work together as a community, with parents, schools, government, churches, and the police, to protect our youth and ensure a brighter future for all." I express a heartfelt thanks and congratulate Apostle and Prophetess Arrindell and their time at Christian Faith Ministries International church for organizing and hosting this much needed platform for awareness and discussion.”

The session ended on a hopeful note, with a call to action to recognize individual roles, responsibilities, and capabilities in addressing youth substance abuse. The community is urged to seek accurate information and support, and to join hands in preventing and combating this grave concern.