Drug abuse kept in the spotlight

Drug abuse is becoming a talking point in Taranaki.

Volunteer group Drug Free Aotearoa expanded its role in the community yesterday when it opened another arm, the Leadership Aotearoa Centre.

It will provide a space to train others to deliver drug education and keep the focus on youth and drugs.

Leadership Aotearoa executive director Michele Burnside says it was while teaching drug education that she met people wanting to be taught how to lead.

"It's developed from Drug Free Aotearoa and meeting people who had a passion for helping others but didn't necessarily have the skills or confidence to move forward," she said.

The training programme that will be used as part of the leadership courses is based on the works of L Ron Hubbard - the founder of scientology.

The religious organisation includes American actor Tom Cruise as one of its many followers.

Ms Burnside says the religious side of Mr Hubbard's work is completely separate from the management technology the centre will be using.

"It has nothing to do with religion and is very secular," she said.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia, who has an interest in the growing youth drug problem, was meant to be at the opening but had to cancel.

New Plymouth Mayor Harry Duynhoven did attend.

Ms Burnside says the best way to reach youth is with effective, fact-based drug education - before they start experimenting with drugs.

"Tweens, teens and young adults who know the facts about drugs are much less likely to start using them."

She says 25,000 booklets on drug education were distributed in Taranaki last month.

Taranaki Daily News