The education system of Karnataka has been well established since the pre-independence era. Students from many parts of the country and the world come here for their graduation and post-graduation. The coastal city of Mangalore in Karnataka is an educational hub that attracts a high number of students every year. Each of these educational institutions have residential arrangements for students and they bustle with activity 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.

The student community is vulnerable to negative influences while away from home, especially given the stress of the education system. They can be influenced by social pressures and concede to various hazards, including illegal drugs.

Vijay Karnataka (VK), the state’s largest newspaper, created an awareness campaign to educate young people about the ill-effects of drug use. The campaign was designed to involve students from multiple educational institutions.

The “Drug-Free Mangalore” campaign was initiated in August 2018 and received extensive news coverage. The Mangalore City Police partnered in the campaign and 75 educational institutions, including secondary schools and colleges, participated in the 41-day campaign.

The campaign included interactive sessions at institutions with representatives from the police department, faculty members of city institutions, psychologists, and development experts. The campaign also included drawings, quizzes, slogan writing, and skit competitions at the institutions, which attracted participation in large numbers. The logo design competition received more than 2,500 design submissions.

We added a signature campaign to the mix to ensure awareness among parents. A pledge board was placed in a city mall and attracted more than 3,000 signatures over a weekend. The signatures were from people of all ages, including celebrities and city leaders.

Students were engaged with a series of contests, including a skit competition that attracted many participants.
Students were engaged with a series of contests, including a skit competition that attracted many participants.

The campaign ended in a grand finale “mega rally” with college students and a session in an auditorium where more than 5,000 students from various institutions pledge to “say no to drugs.” The police department took care of the route map and the safety of the students. The pledge ceremony was hosted by spiritual leaders, celebrities, and heads of institutions. The chorus of the students taking the pledge was memorable.

Overall, the campaign engaged with more than 30,000 students who pledged. The chief minister and deputy chief minister appreciated the VK for creating the campaign and engaging with the youngsters over a conversation about such a serious social menace.

We proudly empowered young people in Mangalore to stay away from drugs, and the campaign also aligned with one of the strategic pillars of Vijay Karnataka: “Empowering Kannadigas” (people who speak Kannada language).