The art of prevention

Kiwanis clubs from the Taiwan District planned and executed an anti-drug program that involved original paintings by students and activities to support their art.

Keeping illegal and unsafe drugs away from youth is a war waged in many parts of the world. In Taiwan, the fight against illegal drug sales and use, especially among young people, reaches all the way to the top. 

In her inauguration speech in 2016, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen announced that the anti-drug effort would be one of the societal issues the government would act on. And in fact, within the first part of her presidency, there was a 20% increase in cases related to illegal drugs. Tsai says that Taiwan’s youth is increasingly using drugs and that those not involved in the drug trade should be treated as “patients and victims,” not as criminals.

Taiwan leadership is taking this war on drugs very seriously. And so are Kiwanis members.

“The drug issue is considered a national and social security issue, especially the age of drug use dropping these days,” says Taiwan District Immediate Past Governor Liu Chun-Kuai. “Drug dealing is invading campuses from high school to elementary school. The minimum age of drug users in Taiwan is 10. In the past, the government has given harsh penalties, and nongovernmental organizations also have gotten involved. The Taiwan District of Kiwanis stands on the same page with the government.”

The Taiwan District has dedicated countless hours to drug awareness, and one recent project — a poster competition — brought together 5,000 students, from elementary to junior high, to create posters to spread the antidrug message. They worked with the Education Bureau to reach out to as many students as possible.

“We hoped to emphasize the idea of drugs and their influences through the creativity and imagination of the students themselves,” Liu says. 

The Kiwanians sent the paintings to all schools, and the students selected their favorites in the first round. The Taiwan District Kiwanians also created an album for all the selected art pieces and now have an art gallery of the top three posters in each group at the district office, where visiting Kiwanians from every division have the chance to see the pieces.

But this poster competition is just a part of what the Taiwan District is doing in the fight against drugs. For example, Kiwanis members can volunteer for training on how to talk about standing up and saying no to drugs — and then take that message to school campuses all over the country. Members have also recently worked with the Taichung City government, creating a booth where they work with students to promote antidrug education to the public.

“Through the multi-teaching style in antidrug education, Kiwanians volunteer to learn drug abuse knowledge, interacting with students to host a series of events such as the painting competition, an antidrug movie and an antidrug quiz reward,” Liu says. “The antidrug exhibition at the Taichung City government this past September was a national event integrating resources and support from different departments, associations and public and private sectors in drug abuse prevention. 

“The Taiwan District of Kiwanis set up the antidrug booth on a sunny Saturday morning, with volunteers from Kiwanis, SLP students and an international student group. Kiwanians working together with youth in the antidrug quiz reward at the booth educate the public in drug abuse and promote the Kiwanis brand to the public.”

It’s a lot of work, Liu says, but it’s been worth it to reach so many people.

“It’s the first time for the Taiwan District to host a series in antidrug promotion,” she adds. “All the divisions and clubs in the district worked hard on it. We’ve gotten efficient feedback that it’s all been successful. The Taiwan District widely implements the motto of taking care of kids and society.”

This story originally appeared in the December 2020 issue of Kiwanis magazine.

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