UNODC’s new Listen First series

With the global pandemic stretching out longer than anyone had hoped for, its consequences continue to impact children and young people globally: aside from the direct health consequences from the disease itself, children and youth are affected from disconnection from their friends, disruptions in their education, which all impact cognitive and social emotional development.

On this year’s World Children’s Day, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released a new series of the ‘Listen First’ initiative – the Science of Skills. The new series focuses on social and emotional skill development as a foundation for drug use prevention in children and early adolescents.

“Drug use prevention based on science is an effective investment in a healthy future,” said Ms. Ghada Waly, Executive Director, UNODC. She added “Amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its disruptions to education and social interactions, the new phase of UNODC’s ‘Listen First’ initiative offers valuable support for children to develop skills which help them build resilience to drug use, and empower them against adversity.”

Five new animated videos, each accompanied by fact-sheets with learnings on skills development, demonstrate the Super Team characters facing common life challenges and using social and emotional skills to help solve problems. They each have what some people might consider a disability – a big nose, big ears, big eyes, big hands. However, as it is demonstrated in the video that kicks off the launch, “Being Special”, the Super Team uses their Super Skills to help themselves, their friends, and their communities in times of difficulty. The new materials will guide children on important life values such as compassion, empathy, motivation, integrity, and respect; all of which are essential in social and emotional learning, and healthy development.

‘Listen First’ materials are available in English, Spanish, and French on the Listen First website, with guidance on local adaptations. UNODC welcomes partners and allies across the globe to join once again, in supporting science-based drug use prevention and effective investment in the well-being of children and youth.

Listening to children and youth is the first step to help them grow healthy and safe.

‘Listen First’ is made possible with the generous support of France.


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