Anti-drug campaign in schools

In a bid to illuminate the path towards a bright, addiction-free future, the Rotaract Club of Sangameshwar, RID 3132, launched Project Tejomay, an addiction awareness campaign. “This initiative is primarily aimed at educating secondary school students in Solapur about the harmful side effects of addictive substances such as tobacco, alcohol and cigarettes,” says club president Sanjana Nagtilak.

RC Solapur North (parent club) president Dr Nihar Burte and secretary Dhanashri Kelkar with RAC Sangameshwar president Sanjana Nagtilak after distributing prizes to winners of Mantavya, an elocution competition organised by the club for school students.
RC Solapur North (parent club) president Dr Nihar Burte and secretary Dhanashri Kelkar with RAC Sangameshwar president Sanjana Nagtilak after distributing prizes to winners of Mantavya, an elocution competition organised by the club for school students.

The first part of the campaign engaged students through a multimedia presentation to illustrate the detrimental effects of addictive substances, along with details about their ingredients and the legal penalties associated with their consumption. Short video clips were played to maintain students’ interest and simplify the complex topics. “Our initiative also introduces healthier alternatives, such as reading, working out and networking, to encourage positive habits among young minds,” says Sanjana.

After a week, the club hosts an elocution competition for the students at the same school, encouraging them to share what they’ve learned during the ­awareness sessions. Sanjana points out that “this phase not only reinforces their understanding but also nurtures their public speaking skills and confidence.”

A participant delivers a speech at the elocution competition.
A participant delivers a speech at the elocution competition.

She further adds that “each school has a ­designated project chair, and they oversee all aspects of the project, from start to finish.” The elocution ­competition is judged by fellow ­Rotaractors, providing them with opportunities to enhance their analytical skills.

The club has already reached out to five schools, benefiting over 1,000 students. The project cost per school is ₹5,000. Participants receive certificates, while winners of the elocution competition are rewarded with certificates, medals, and cash prizes of ₹1,000 for the first place, ₹700 for the second, and ₹500 for the third place.

One poignant moment during a Tejomay session, says Sanjana, was when a Class 6 student shared “the suffering of his mother and aunt who are victims of domestic violence caused by their intoxicated spouses. The student said he felt helpless when his mother pleaded him to save her from the physical violence. He pledged to never touch addictive substances and ensure a safe space for the women of his house. It was a heart-wrenching testimony but it also underscores the importance of our campaign.”

Schoolchildren interacting with Rotaractors during a lecture on drug abuse.
Schoolchildren interacting with Rotaractors during a lecture on drug abuse.

As part of World Rotaract Week, the club conducted ­Mantavya, an elocution competition held at the ­Sangmeshwar College in the city. This joint effort with its parent club, RC Solapur North, was sponsored by ­Manodaya  Neuropsychiatric ­Hospital. The parent club president Dr Nihar Burte and ­secretary Dhanashri Kelkar were present at the event. Approximately 25 participants spoke on a variety of topics, including mental health and blood donation.

The competition was judged by renowned communication experts Manjusha Gadgil and the Rotaract club’s IPP Shreya Mashal. ­Participants received ­certificates, while ­winners were honoured with trophies and cash prizes. The  dignitaries were given tulsi saplings, as memento.

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