BY HARNOOR GILL
Grade 11 student
Christ The King Catholic Secondary
ON August 24, over 100 youth of Brampton realized how far the effects of drugs can take you. I heard about this event when I was listening to Rajinder Saini (Host of Parvasi Radio on 1320 AM) on my way back home from Mississauga. I listened more intently after finding out that this event was for youth and by youth. After listening on for awhile, I realized that this was a drug awareness forum that was being held for youth. I was interested in what this event had to offer so I decided to contact the people in charge.
As an avid volunteer myself, I can say that I was quite excited to be of help. It happened to be a coincidence that they needed someone to help facilitate the event or in other words, to be the Master of Ceremonies. From previous experience, I have spoken at public events such as WE Day, but this time I was the one facilitating an event on stage. I didn’t reject the offer but I decided to try something new that I had never done before.
This forum took a lot of hard work and dedication to coordinate and many people sacrificed their time in order to make this happen. The Drug Awareness Society of Toronto (DAST) played a huge role in facilitating as well as coordinating this event for the 3rd time in a row. Without their help and assistance, this event would not have been as big of a hit. It was planned resourcefully and was situated for youth in the Brampton region that wanted to learn more about how they can tackle drugs in high school.
The part of being the MC of this Drug Awareness Forum was indeed a highlight but it wasn’t the reason I was excited for the event. The reason I was excited about the event was because this was a great way for youth to realize the negative effects of drug abuse. It was a forum for youth to realize once and for all where drugs can really take you in life. It was a great turnout and during the event we had the pleasure of having two guest speakers. They were Jagdeep Mangat from British Columbia and Drew Walton of the Canadian Center for Addiction.
I had the great pleasure of meeting Mr. Mangat who is now a professional immigration lawyer as well as a social activist for gang and drug prevention among youth. Mr. Mangat is a prime example of someone that joined a gang but came out as a better person by learning from the mistakes he made in terms of life choices. He realized one night through some gang work that this was not what he had planned to be as a person. He decided he didn’t want to see friends being shot anymore around him, so he got out of the gang life and completed high school.
Mr. Mangat even went on to go to Simon Fraser University to pursue further education there. As a former gang member, he would fear who would want him dead when he came out of prison. It was extremely hard for him to come out of the gang life, but once he did, he deiced to show youth across Canada that drugs can take you to places that you might not want to be at.
The next speaker, Mr. Drew Walton, was someone who came out good as well after the terrible influence of things like drugs. Through both clinical and personal experiences, Drew has been able to transform his life and assists people today with addiction problems, too. Soon after, Drew realized that he wanted to do something better in life and he has now successfully become the Director of Operations for the Canadian Centre for Addiction. At the conference, Drew did a great job of emphasizing the taboo subject on how marijuana really isn’t healthy for you.
He said that there are over 400 harmful chemicals present in marijuana and when smoked, there are more than 1,500 harmful chemicals present. Drew said that he wished that the person that offered him weed for the first time hadn’t said that it was fun to be high for 15 to 20 minutes, but he wishes that the person said it takes away your future of becoming successful in life. Although, Drew has become quite successful being the Director of Operations, he still regrets he listened to some kid who was failing in half of his subjects in school.
These two speakers did an amazing job reaching out to the youth and showing them that drugs can take you to places you would regret afterwards; so make the right choices right away. During the end of the presentation, I also had the chance to instruct the youth about opportunities where they can volunteer to stay successful in life and avoid the terrible influence of drugs. I also suggested that they don’t have to volunteer but they can be a part of sports teams in order to stay focused and stay committed to school.
Overall, I had a great time learning and engaging with youth at this 3rd annual drug prevention forum and I hope to attend next year as well.
If you need more information, you can reach out to DAST team member at (647) 448-1232.
We can all prevent the youth of today to avoid the influence of drugs!