THE You Decide programme has launched the next phase of its campaign to curb underage drinking with the creation of a new reality TV show.
The successful public-private partnership between the South African Breweries, National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) and the Department of Trade and Industry has taken the message of the negative consequences of teenage drinking to close to 500 000 learners in almost a thousand schools.
The new 13-part reality TV show, called Future Leaders, debuted on SABC 1 on Tuesday this week and aims to deliver this message to an expanded national audience of millions of South Africans.
The show will run in parallel with road shows that directly engage teenagers around the country.
The cutting-edge reality TV series presented by You Decide features the lives of five ordinary teenagers from different walks of life in South Africa who have previously experimented with alcohol.
The teenagers’ awareness of the devastation underage drinking has had in their communities inspires them to make a real difference and become role models for their peers.
The Future Leaders series follows their real-life adventure as they bring to life their decision to stop drinking alcohol, turn their lives around and create practical sustainable projects that will curb underage drinking in their communities.
Their desire to pursue their dreams with the help of parents, teachers, broader community members, relevant NGOs and government institutions comes with many trials and tribulations, which holds valuable life lessons for them and the audience.
The five Future Leaders are Nkosana Banda from Gauteng; Thobile Phantshi from KwaZulu-Natal; Tayla Tomlinson from the Eastern Cape; Ndimphiwe Lwande from Mpumalanga and Chriszelda Booysen from the Free State.
Like many other teenagers, they dream of futures as, among others, pilots, dancers, actresses and lawyers.
Each of them is mentored and coached by a finalist of the highly successful and popular One Day Leader programme on SABC 1.
The mentors are in turn guided about their responsibilities by well-known marketer, columnist and blogger Khaya Dlanga.
Throughout the series, the Future Leaders will have the opportunity to meet and be assisted by various celebrities and influential people who will be helping them with the skills required as they journey to become leaders in their respective communities.
SAB executive director for corporate affairs and transformation Vincent Maphai believes it is incumbent upon all stakeholders that share concerns about the unacceptable levels of underage drinking to work together to eradicate this scourge.
“We are committed to playing our role as a responsible corporate citizen, as well as the largest liquor manufacturer in the country, to ensure we minimise alcohol abuse harm,” said Maphai.
“The underage consumption of liquor ultimately threatens the future growth and development of our communities and our country.”
He added that one of the key factors for success in fighting underage drinking was ensuring teenagers are encouraged and recognised for the work that they do to improve the communities in which they live.
“Teenagers who are supported by informed teachers, parents, community members and their peers are able to make more positive choices in their lives, not only around abstaining from alcohol, but also by contributing positively to the betterment of others in their community,” Maphai continued.
Research shows that teenagers who use alcohol are three times more likely to be involved in violent crimes.
Statistics also indicate that 67 percent of teens who drink before the age of 15 will go on to use illegal drugs – they are 22 times more likely to use marijuana, and 50 times more likely to use cocaine.
NYDA executive chairperson Yershen Pillay believes while the statistics may be alarming, teenagers may not be aware of the extent to which underage drinking places them in danger.
“It’s important to continue to discourage teenagers from drinking and abusing liquor as this puts their lives at risk,” said Pillay.
“This could include engaging in unprotected sexual activities and in the process exposing themselves to the possibility of contracting sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV and Aids, as well as potentially engaging in crime and violence.”
Future Leaders transmission times are Tuesdays at 10pm on SABC 1, with a repeat on Sundays at 12h30pm. – Own Correspondent.