Educating ‘Pon Anodda Level’

DESNOES and Geddes (D&G) Foundation has partnered with the Ministry of Education and Youth and Rise Life Management Services to expand its youth alcohol sensitisation advocacy through a two-day workshop as part of the ‘Pon Anodda Level’ responsible drinking initiative.

Facilitating more than 150 guidance counsellors from across the island, the interactive seminars featured two main topics: ‘Underage Gambling Prevention’ and ‘The Challenges of Underage Drinking’.

The sessions, hosted at the company’s Spanish Town Road brewery, included expert insights, open discussions, and the provision of valuable resources to equip guidance counsellors with tools to help prevent underage drinking.

Dianne Ashton-Smith, director of the D&G Foundation, spoke passionately about the purpose of the training sessions.

“Today’s training session focuses on addressing a critical issue in our society, underage drinking. As guidance counsellors, you play a pivotal role in shaping the lives of young people and providing them with the necessary support and guidance,” said Ashton-Smith.

“We believe that by equipping you with the knowledge and tools to combat underage drinking, we can work together to create a safer and healthier future for our youth. We believe that everyone should make informed choices about alcohol consumption and that these choices should be made at the appropriate legal age.

“Through these partnerships we can empower young people to understand the risks associated with underage drinking and provide them with the tools to make responsible decisions,” added Ashton-Smith.

The sessions featured discussions and presentations from Richard Henry, a facilitator at Rise Life Management, followed by an informative discourse with counselling psychologist Howard Gough, who delved into the issue of responsible consumption, placing particular emphasis on the challenges of underage drinking.

“The session on underage drinking exposed me to a lot of factors that I was not aware of, especially from a psychological perspective,” said Old Harbour Bay Primary School guidance counsellor Jennifer McKay-Kenlock.

“Underage drinking and gambling are prevalent among our students. While they don’t often volunteer, they partake in such activities. We become aware when we prompt our students extensively during sessions. With the information and resources we have been provided within the workshop, I can better understand our youths and better guide them,” added McKay-Kenlock.

Even for schools not currently facing these issues, such as Guy’s Hill Primary, guidance counsellor Claudette Silvera Mighty noted that the session was highly impactful.

She said the staff plans to pass on the information learnt during the workshop to inform parents. This approach aims to provide parents with a better understanding of their children’s behaviour and help prevent the issue before it arises.

“The workshop was beneficial to me because, truthfully, I learnt a lot about the minds of our children. While it is not an issue now, the plan is to prevent it as much as possible. On Parents’ Day we will host a workshop so they, too, can better guide their children at home while we assist at school,” said Mighty.

Throughout this year, the D&G Foundation and Rise Life Management Services have collectively educated more than 240 young individuals in St Elizabeth, St Thomas, Westmoreland, St James, and Kingston.

This initiative reflects the D&G Foundation’s ongoing commitment to fostering a healthier and more responsible society.

Dianne Ashton-Smith expressed the foundation’s gratitude for the partnership with Rise Life Management Services.

“We are thrilled to be part of this amazing partnership, and we must commend our long-time partners from Rise Life Management Services who have greatly assisted us in promoting a ‘brew a better world’ agenda,” said Ashton-Smith.