SAATHI - working towards tackling substance abuse in schools

Gangtok, 20 Apr:

Sikkim against Addiction towards Healthy India (SAATHI) is a project which deals with the issue of substance abuse mainly in the schools.

"SAATHI model uses the human resources available in the schools. The model and support is provided to the principals, teachers and students enabling them to take effective action to tackle the issue of substance abuse," said board member of SAATHI, Satyadeep Chettri.

It is a project under Chief Minister’s Youth Empowerment and Self Reliant Mission.

He added that the teacher coordinators of all the schools are trained to create a system of self-management and the student peer educators are equipped with skills to help their fellow students cope with challenges of substance use.

"The schools are encouraged to carry the message of SAATHI into the community. It also ties up with the people and organizations working towards the same goal to have a more consolidated approach at tackling substance use," reads the mission statement of SAATHI.

The project was launched on 16 May 2013 with Deorali Girls Senior Secondary School and Tadong Senior Secondary Schools chosen as pilot projects.

In 2016- 17, SAATHI had its presence in 30 schools and now it aims to reach out to 70 schools in its final phase. The project is expected to impact 100 government schools across the state of Sikkim.

First intervention, Teacher Training and Support, off Site training camp, Parental counselling and community outreach are the components of the SAATHI initiative.

Choden Denzongpa, a teacher coordinator said, "There is a student who is clean for three years now. I can proudly and rightfully say that the student will never take drugs again."