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Ministry campaigns for security of youths amid coronavirus pandemic

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Worried by the positive effects of the social distancing measures, which has forced the cancellation of all sporting activities across the world, the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports has developed a programme tagged, “I choose life campaign” to address the mental and emotional pressures that could push youth into substance abuse during the current lockdown.

The Federal Government introduced some measures, including social distancing and total lockdown of some states, to stem the spread of COVID-19 in the country. These measures have forced the indefinite postponement of the National Sports Festival earlier scheduled for March in Benin and the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to next year.

And to ensure the possible consequential economic hardships that may follow has no negative mental, emotional and physical effects on Nigerians, the sports ministry said it is launching the campaign to support young people in making healthy lifestyle choices by avoiding abuse of drugs and illegal substances.

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Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, said late Tuesday, “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. 

“Youth are at the stage of their lives where schooling, socializing, entertainment, sports and relaxation form daily routine are the core of the expression of our youthfulness. 

“In the past few weeks and in the next few months, it seems that routine is being defined not by our own 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.

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“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 preserving citizens from COVID-19. So, if we do value our lives, we must place a premium on the quality of it. The campaign is to support our young people as much as possible go through this period and come out of it stronger and healthier.

“All over the world, Nigerian youths are easily recognized as some of the smartest and hardworking set of individuals. Sports, entertainment, intellectual geniuses abound amongst the Nigerian youths of today. Our goal is to support them with messages, information and activities that empower them to choose Life above drugs, illegal substances and depression,” the Minister said.

He said the ‘I Choose Life, Say No to Drugs Campaign’ will educate and enable Nigeria’s youth to reject illicit drugs.

“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.

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