27/11/2002

School children to attend drugs awareness class

Almost 100 primary school pupils from across Belfast are set to take part in a special cross-community drugs education initiative tomorrow morning.

The children - from Avoniel, Currie, Holy Rosary and Holy Trinity Primary Schools - are attending a special awareness event, organised by the council’s All-Party Working Group on Drugs Misuse, in the City Hall.

Speaking in advance of the event, the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Alex Maskey, said: “Belfast City Council recognises that the drugs issues impact across all strata of society. This day has been arranged as part of an ongoing civic leadership initiative by the council, which aims to co-ordinate those organisations working to combat the misuse of drugs in Belfast.”

Research has shown that the drugs problem is a growing one, especially among young people - and even those as young as 10 years of age.

“The figures do give cause for concern, as they show that nearly one-in-25 Primary Seven pupils - the equivalent of one child in every class - has been offered drugs, and half of these children have tried drugs at least once. In the Belfast area, almost one-out-of-six 10 to 13 year olds has tried drugs, and it is a sad reality of life today that primary school children are vulnerable,” said the Lord Mayor.

The event will use a puppet show to tackle issues such as education, prevention and protection, which will also provide an opportunity for the young people to participate in an interactive drug education experience.

The City Council event is made more relevant following on from a police operation today in which a substantial amount of illegal medicinal drugs were uncovered in Ballymoney, Co Antrim.

Police and inspectors from the Department of Health seized 53 boxes of Sustanon and 166 boxes of Nublen. No arrests were made.

Drugs education and treatment groups are also set to benefit from money seized from the proceeds of the drug trade.

Elsewhere, police in Ballymena announced yesterday that they had obtained a disposal order for £21,500 seized as proceeds of the drug trade and have decided to distribute the money to support victims of drug and alcohol abuse.

Chief Inspector David Wallace said it was a fitting destination for the money and a "very imaginative" way to dispose of the proceeds of crime.

"This substantial sum of cash, proceeds of a miserable life destroying trade will now be used to benefit victims and fund education projects to divert people away from the dead end of drug and alcohol addiction," he said.

(GMcG)

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