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Home > European Drug Prevention Prize: experiences of an Irish juror.

Walsh, Rachel (2013) European Drug Prevention Prize: experiences of an Irish juror. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 45, Spring 2013 , pp. 9-10.

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The European Drug Prevention Prize was launched by the Pompidou Group of the Council of Europe in 2004. It is awarded every two years to innovative drug prevention projects led by young people for young people. The objective is to recognise the importance of active youth participation in creating a better and healthier environment for all communities in Europe.
Participation has expanded dramatically, from 18 countries submitting 44 projects in 2004 to 24 countries submitting 83 projects in 2012, the most recent year in which the prize was awarded. Ireland has entered projects over the years, and was a winner in 2006 with a project entitled 421.1
The jury for the European Drug Prevention Prize comprises six young people, aged between 18 and 23. The jury is supported by an advisory group of three experts. The young jurors autonomously select the three prize-winners from among the applications submitted. The three projects which they consider to be the most innovative regarding drug prevention and the active involvement of young people from the setting-up to the running of the project are awarded the prize, which comprises a trophy, a diploma and €5,000 in prize money.
A young Irish woman, Rachel Walsh, was a member of the jury for the 2010 and 2012 awards. She describes her experiences as a juror.
My journey as a jury member began when I was in Transition Year in secondary school. I got involved with a peer drug education programme called 421.1 Set up in 2004 by Mel Bay and Susan Barnes of Ossory Youth, Kilkenny, the programme consisted of 12 peer educators including 11 girls and myself. We received training in how to create and deliver a drug education class to a group of first-year students once a week over a six-week period.
In 2006 Mel and Susan decided to enter the 421 programme for the 2006 European Drug Prevention Prize. The Pompidou Group secretariat invited a representative of 421 to a European Drug Forum in Vilnius, Lithuania. I was the peer educator lucky enough to represent the 421 programme at the Forum, during which I got the opportunity to meet with other people who work in drug prevention around Europe and learn about the work they do. Our programme was one of two winners of the prize in 2006; the other winner was a project from Norway. Three years later the Pompidou Group secretariat was recruiting young people to serve on the jury via a network of youth associations involved in drug prevention activities. Mel Bay was invited to nominate someone and he suggested that I should apply. My application was successful and a few months later I joined the jury for the 2010 and 2012 prizes.
For each prize, the jury met twice. At a preparatory meeting in Strasbourg, we discussed the rules and procedures, the selection criteria by which we would evaluate the applications and the information which should be provided in the application form. We were assisted by three experts in the field of drug prevention whose role was to answer any queries and to offer us advice if we needed it. When the official call for applications for the prize was issued, all the required information was publicised and sent to networks concerned with drug prevention and youth activities. Following the closing date for applications for the prize, the jury held a selection meeting to discuss and evaluate the applications, and to decide on the shortlisted projects.
In 2012, at the selection meeting, we had 83 applications from 24 countries to consider. The three winning projects were selected from a shortlist. We chose those that we considered had active youth participation and which were the most innovative in their drug prevention activities. The winning projects came from Lebanon, Germany and Spain. Ten other shortlisted projects were nominated for their noteworthy work in drug prevention with the active involvement of young people.
The participation of a broad range of countries adds considerable value not only to the prize but also to European drug prevention as a whole. It is uplifting to see what great work is being done by inspirational people in their respective countries and regions. We examined and read about many worthy and encouraging projects that benefit so many people. They all displayed the same hard work, dedication, heart and soul. That is why jurors have such a difficult job to pick just three winning projects.
There are many benefits to the projects which win the European Drug Prevention Prize; not only from the financial aspect but also recognition of their hard work on a European level, which in turn can raise media awareness and reach out to more people. I hope the prize continues to be supported because it is important to recognise and encourage young people to stay active and involved in such important work in the area of drug prevention and harm reduction.
According to the programme co-ordinator, Mel Bay, 421 is still  being delivered in a number of schools in Kilkenny City and County, but it has been adapted to the particular circumstances of schools; for example, in some schools it is targeted at young people identified as being involved with drug use; in other schools it has broadened out to focus on mental health and individual development, which will naturally cover drugs education but also issues such as sexual health, self-harm and bullying, and is targeted at the whole school community.
I have recently got re-involved with Ossory Youth (, working with young people and hoping to give back to the people that gave me my start in drug prevention.
Sadly, my time on the jury of the European Drug Prevention Prize has ended. The experience has been wonderful. I feel privileged that I have been involved in something so worthwhile on a European level. I will keep those experiences with me forever – and I hope my drug prevention work in the future will be better because of it.
1.See Keane M (2006) Peer drugs education programme in Kilkenny wins major European award. Drugnet Ireland , (19): 10.
The next European Drug Prevention Prize will be awarded in 2014. The call for applications is due to be issued in late 2013.
Item Type
Issue Title
Issue 45, Spring 2013
Page Range
pp. 9-10
Health Research Board
Issue 45, Spring 2013
Accession Number
HRB (Electronic Only)

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