In­ter­ac­tive ses­sion Ad­dresses Sub­stance Abuse and Men­tal Health Chal­lenges in lo­cal youth

The Miracle - - Local - By: Mis­bah Naseer

Try­ing al­co­hol, mar­i­juana, drugs, and other sub­stances like nico­tine rep­re­sent a rite of pas­sage for many young peo­ple grow­ing up. Some may try it once or a few times and then walk away while oth­ers may be­come ad­dicted lead­ing to sub­stance abuse. These vices do not fol­low bound­aries of re­li­gious or cul­tural iden­ti­ties. There­fore, it is im­por­tant, for both par­ents and youth, to dis­cuss the ef­fects dif­fer­ent sub­stances may have on and be aware of the signs of sub­stance abuse and how to seek treat­ment. Given the preva­lence of sub­stance abuse amongst youth in Lower Main­land and the re­cent le­gal­iza­tion of mar­i­juana in Canada, a learn­ing event on the topic of sub­stance abuse for both par­ents and youth was held on Oc­to­ber at Straw­berry Hill Li­brary in Sur­rey. The event was or­ga­nized by a small groups of vol­un­teers from di­verse pro­fes­sional back­grounds who con­nected on the Face­book group “Pak­istani in Van­cou­ver” last year and have since been or­ga­niz­ing events for new­com­ers in BC. Ms. An­jum Khan opened the event with the in­tro­duc­tion of the topic and the speak­ers. Ms. an­bka Mailk, ad­min­is­tra­tor of the Face­book group “Pak­istani in Van­cou­ver” briefly de­scribed the pur­pose of var­i­ous events. This was fol­lowed by recita­tion of holy Qu­ran by young Far­wah Arslan. The next part of the pro­gram con­sisted of three amaz­ing speak­ers on the topic of sub­stance abuse and men­tal health and was con­ducted by Ms. Mis­bah Naseer. The first speaker was Dr. Mah-i-Laqa Rafiq who pre­sented the cur­rent sta­tis­tics about sub­stance abuse within Lower Main­land. She shared some eye-open­ing facts about high per­cent­ages of youth who try mar­i­juana at ages as young as . She touched upon the var­i­ous rea­sons why some­one may be in­clined to try var­i­ous sub­stances and how fam­i­lies can ed­u­cate and sup­port the youth. The next speaker was Ms. Ki­ran Toor who is the Vice Pres­i­dent of Kids Play Foun­da­tion which IS a non profit or­ga­ni­za­tion work­ing to­wards keeping kids away from the life­style of drugs, gangs, and vi­o­lence. She de­scribed the var­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties or­ga­nized by Kid­sPlay and shared her ex­pe­ri­ences work­ing with at-risk youth. She en­cour­aged ev­ery youth in the au­di­ence to vol­un­teer and get in­volved with the or­ga­nized. The last speaker of the day was Kabir Qur­ban who shared his per­sonal per­spec­tive about men­tal health chal­lenges faced by im­mi­grant youth. Kabir light­ened up the mood with anec­dotes and per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences, help­ing ev­ery­one re­late to this very se­ri­ous topic of­ten treated as a taboo. Af­ter­wards, a ques­tion and an­swer ses­sion was held. Dr. Babra Rana, a psy­chi­a­trist and Ms. So­nia Andhi, a youth coun­selor also par­tic­i­pated in the dis­cus­sion and shared their in­sight on the topic. A short quiz with prizes was then held to test the knowl­edge of the youth and ev­ery­one ac­tively par­tic­i­pated in it. Ms. Rahila Jib­ril wrapped up the event thank­ing all the at­ten­dees and or­ga­niz­ers in­clud­ing those work­ing tire­lessly be­hind the scene in­clud­ing Hu­maira Im­tiaz, Yasera An­war, Amira Azam, An­jum Rafiq. Over­all, the event was a huge suc­cess as a high num­ber of youth were in at­ten­dance and were fully en­gaged in all the talks. The event was made pos­si­ble with the gen­er­ous sup­port the neigh­bour­hood small grant by Van­cou­ver Foun­da­tion and the or­ga­niz­ers want to thank Solo Pizza for their sup­port.

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