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Rise Up! Project report from Slovakia
By Miroslava Žilinská
Three trainings has so far taken place in Slovakia as part of Youth RISE's RISE Up! project.
Number of participants: 10
Duration: 4 hours
The participants were recruited from a local vocational school for young people who for different reasons did not finish elementary education. These students have a weak academic background and tend to come from poor family backgrounds, often from broken homes and orphanages. Many of the participants report that they regularly smoke cannabis, drink alcohol, experiement with hallucinogens and are around people who regularly use methamphetamine.
The training began with a short brainstorm activity, where the participants were encouraged to share their ideas about what is “health” and what is a drug. The definitions of these terms were then written down, using WHO definitions. The next activity was based on short stories of young people. The participants had to identify drugs which were used in their story, and identified the reasons for drug use. They were separated into groups where they wrote down the information and were encouraged to share their own information about the drug. The trainer then presented basic information about harm reduction – what it is and some of the basic principles of a harm reduction approach. The participants were then given a chance to try different first aid techniques, such as resuscitation. The group then explored different overdose prevention measures and looked at what they could do in case of an overdose or a bad trip
The last session with this group was about sexual health. Together with participants, we discussed different sexual activities and different HIV and STD prevention measures. The participants were given time to practice putting a condom on a fake penis and demonstrations were given with female condoms. Then some myths about sex were discussed in groups (e.g. using cream instead of lube; taking a shower after vaginal sex will prevent a woman to get pregnant; etc). At the end of the training, the participants were encouraged to ask questions. Everyone got the trainer’s email contact in case of questions later. The participants wrote down short feedback on training.
Feedback from the participants:
“I believe this type of trainings are important. In some families, parents don´t talk with their kids about this stuff. That means, kids may often get into some trouble. I think such projects may prevent that. I really liked it.”
“I liked the training; it gave me a lot of new information about drugs. And useful information, harm reduction, for example. I am pretty sure I need (and needed sooner) these information, I am glad I was here.”
“I’ve learnt a lot today. Things which will be useful in my life. Thanks.”
Number of participants: 5
Duration: 11 hours
This group consisted of young peer education workers who want to work with young people and provide counseling services to young people on drugs, sex, HIV and STDs. Half of the participants were active drug users and or were experimenting with different sorts of drugs and they wanted to share learnt information during their volunteer work in the as well as in their private life within their own communities.
Training Content: Day 1:
At the beginning, after the greeting of participants and the introduction a short brainstorm activity was played. The participants were encouraged to share their association and ideas about what is health and what is a drug. Definition of health and drug was written down, using WHO definitions.The next activity was based on short stories of young people. The participants had to identify drugs which were used in the story, identify the reason for drug use. Separated into the groups they wrote down information about the read drug and were encouraged to share their own information about the drug. Next session was dedicated to harm reduction and drug use. We discussed Zinberg´s model of factors interaction – the drug, the environment and the individual.
We began with a role play activity where the participants could try playing a number of different roles (ie, a drug user, outreach worker etc…), while the trainers were watching the interactions. After finishing the activity, the participants who played the different roles presented their feeling/thoughts about it. Safer injecting and safer sniffing were the topics of the second half of the day. Then, the participants had a chance to try different first aid techniques before exploring overdose prevention measures and what to do in different situations.
The last session was focused on sex and sexual health. Together with participants, we discussed different sexual activities and HIV and STD prevention. The participants could practice putting a condom on a fake penis and demonstrations were given with female condoms. We discussed several STDs (such as herpes, syphilis, chlamydia and we also discussed the possibilities of testing for STDs in Slovakia and we discussed the issues around why why young people do not get tested in Slovakia. At the end of the training, the participants were encouraged to ask questions. Everyone got the trainer’s email contact in case of questions later. The participants wrote down short feedback on training.
Feedback from the participants:
“All these information was really useful – amazing. I haven’t got an idea that all these things may be done in order to minimalize the drug-related risks...”
This training was a bit different from the previous trainings. We decided to move and try to organize small workshops during the open-air festival BeeFree in Piešťany. Thanks to NGO Odyseus, we already had different leaflets (about different drugs and harm reduction tips and safer sex) which were distributed during the festivals. Of course, a new approach to the training brought its pros and cons. On the one hand, 8 trainers contacted a lot of people. The estimated number of the contacts is over 600. We counseled drug use and harm reduction with more than 70 people and about 170 people practiced the proper way of using condoms. Most of the young people we contacted were active drug users. On the other hand, every participant spent different amount of time with us. Not everyone got all the information about drugs, harm reduction, overdose prevention sex, HIV and STDs.
However about 7 young people did spent with us more time during the festival (some of them hours with us, some were coming back and every time we did a different workshop and discussed different issues) and we really included the most important information from all the highlighted topics. Plus, we also promoted the Rise Up! Project, so those who did not want to spent time with workshops during the festivals got contact and were encouraged to let us know if they want to take part in a longer training.