In a Press Conference that took place in October 2003 in the hotel N.J.V. Athens Plaza, the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and member of the Board of Trustees of the Mentor International Foundation, Mrs Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, presented the aim and the work of the Foundation to the journalists and announced the award of the Centre for the Treatment of Substance Dependant People (KETHEA), with the Mentor Award being the first: the Mentor Prevention Achievement Award.
This is an award which, among 150 candidate institutes from 49 countries, was presented to KETHEA for its prevention programme applied for the parents, students and teachers of the 132nd Primary School of Athens from September 2000 until June 2002.
The aim of the programme was to prevent the use of substances along with the general promotion of the students psychosomatic health, with the active participation of teachers and parents. During these two years the programme was attended by 217 students, 19 teachers and 85 parents in total.
The presentation of the award along with prize money of 100,000 Euros aimed at the further development of the KETHEA prevention programmes, took place on Saturday the 11th of October in Zurich. The committee of the scientists specialised in the sectors of confronting substance-dependence and health education, which evaluated the programme, reports that the involvement of KETHEA is distinct due to the high effectiveness towards the personal development of the children, their psychosomatic improvement as well as supporting the parents so that they are able to cope with their role more effectively.
In her brief speech, Mrs Vardinoyannis expressed the satisfaction and pride that she felt as a Greek citizen for this honorary discrimination of KETHEA, as this proves, as she characteristically said, that in the end, the human quality, people and their visions, is what provides the country with power and prospect.
Then, Mrs Vardinoyannis pointed out that, for the past 10 years, the Mentor Foundation constitutes the only international non governmental organisation in the world that is activated on a global level on the prevention of drug use by children and young people, in collaboration with the World Health Organization the UN International Drug Control Programme as well as governments and independent organisations.
In the Foundations Board of Trustees, said Mrs Vardinoyannis, we are 22 members in total from various countries, under the Presidency of Queen Silvia of Sweden. We are all convinced that the key for the achievement of our aim lays on the prevention. We believe that the most important weapon against drugs is the power of the resistance in each one of us, especially the children and young people, against the pressure exerted by life and society; the NOs that young people can say: No to insecurity; No to the easy way; No to the mass; No to the alienation; No to drugs. For this reason, the Mentor Foundation programmes have as their main objective to reinforce the self-confidence of the children, young people, parents and teachers to such extend so that they are able to say No – no to the massive pressure, no to drugs.
To achieved this aim, the Mentor Foundation has supported the group works for the prevention of addictive substances and educational programmes in four continents and has invested more than 20 millions dollars in order to organise and reinforce drug prevention worldwide. In its effort, the Mentor Foundation is financially supported by individuals as well as enterprises in all over the world.
In order that these initiatives become more known, the Foundation established the International Mentor Awards which include: the Achievement Award for the programmes that were proved to be very effective for drug prevention and the Innovation Award for the programmes that applied and have potential. Moreover, the Mentor Foundation honours those individuals and organisations which propose new and innovative ways in the drug prevention sector with the Youth Initiative Award.
Then, the President of the Board of Trustees of KETHEA, Professor Nikolaos Paraskeuopoulos, spoke who referred to the background and purpose of applying for candidacy to Mentor Foundation programme and the impulse that the international recognition will give to the KETHEA prevention activities as well as the money prize that accompanies the award.
The Director of KETHEA, Dr Charalampos Poulopoulos referred to the need for integrated and consistent interventions for prevention addressed to the students, parents and teachers which will reinforce the factors protecting from the use of substances, which will be more than a simple briefing or produce a panic environment concerning the phenomenon of drugs.
Finally Mrs Sotiria Tsiotra, who is in charge of the prevention programmes of KETHEA in Basic Education, presented the awarded programme, reporting on the following:
The programme evaluation revealed important personal changes in the students, such as the improvement of the self-esteem and self-knowledge, improvement of communication skills and management of the difficult situations, acceptance of diversity. These skills have been proved to be able to shield the children toward the use of substances and other harmful forms of behaviour.
The school environment, which has an intense cross-cultural character, was also considerably improved as the bonds, collaboration and mutual understanding among the students were reinforced and the prejudice and mistrust were softened.
Positive changes in the attitude of the students toward the school and the educational process as well as their relations with the teachers were noted. An explicit school policy on health issues and child protection was also formed. The parents and teachers also reported that they received an important support, so that they are able to better respond to their role requirements.