October 19, 2020
The region of San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca in the northwestern part of Argentina is the first Planet Youth partner in Argentina. Catamarca joins a growing number of municipalities in Europe, Australia and America from Canada in the north to Chile in the south who have decided to use the Planet Youth methodology and youth research as their foundation to improve the live environment of their children and teenagers in order to reduce substance use.
Due to the ongoing COVID situation the formal signature of the contract took place in special circumstances, on an online meeting with Jon Sigfusson, Director of Planet Youth/ICSRA, stationed in Iceland and the mayor of San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca, Gustavo Saadi, in Argentina accompanied with the Secretary of Human Development, Alberto Natella, the Undersecretary of Health, Ana Fernanda Lagoria, the General Director of Health, Matías García Terán, and the technical team assigned for this project.
Jon Sigfusson, the director said on this occasion:
„We are really pleased to welcome the beautiful city of Catamarca to the Planet Youth family. We feel obliged to share with them what we have seen working in prevention for youth in Iceland and other countries in the world over the past twenty years. We use science when it comes to building bridges, in pharmaceutical development, in the fisheries or tourism so why should we not use science when it comes to the most important part of our lives, the lives of our children?“
Catamarca will now start their first part of the Planet Youth processes to get initial training, preparation and then send out questionnaires to schools to get the baseline status of youth in Catamarca. On this information, they will be able to build their strategies, with concrete evidence in hand.
Gustavo Saadi, mayor of Catamarca, welcomed the agreement and said in an interview with the newspaper El Esquiú,
“It gives us great satisfaction to have taken this step, because facing the problem of addictions is something that we considered vital from the first day of our administration, and we feel a commitment to make all the necessary efforts to protect our young people and combat this threat.“
and he added:
“Long-term and hard work awaits us, in which we need the participation, knowledge and will of the community. This is not a magic or automatic solution, we are proposing an in-depth work in which families, clubs, educators and the entire community will participate; but I know that we are going to achieve it because overcoming the problem of addictions is a challenge that we citizens of the city can achieve if we do it together.“
The Planet Youth team has over the past six months adjusted to the challenging situations of the world pandemic and have developed an online home-schooling protocol to be able to deal with this new situation where many children and teenagers are forced to attend school from their homes. It has probably never been as urgent, in these extraordinary times, to know the true situation and feelings of our youth.