Jodi-Ann Gilpin, Gleaner Writer
Fifteen-year-old Ferdinand Habsburg will be tackling some serious issues as he embarks on his new role as international teenage ambassador on alcohol abuse come February.
The teen, who hails from Austria, yesterday recommended that policymakers in Jamaica go into schools and take a more radical approach in tackling alcohol abuse.
"I haven't really gone deep into it just yet, but I would recommend that we go into the schools more and target children at that point when they are focusing, and explain to them how horrible the consequences of alcohol abuse are," he said.
"I have heard the stories that I am too young and that they won't listen to me, but we just have to find a method that will work to get the message across," declared Habsburg.
He added: "We have to take everything in stride, because everything won't change all at once, but it's a monster that we should try to tackle, as it can have serious consequences for us."
The teenager, who hopes to become a Formula One racing car driver, also pointed out he is concerned about how accessible alcohol is, and says more rigid rules should be implemented.
"I totally agree that it's (alcohol) too accessible, and in Austria, it's a bit tougher for teens to access alcohol, but it's still ridiculous the number of youths who still have a hold of these drugs and alcohol, and so we have to work on either implementing tougher rules or enforcing those that we have, so as to curb the number of teens using alcohol," he said.
"Based on statistics in my country, we see where quite a number of deaths among teens are as a result of drinking and kids trying to show off and be in the hype, but my job is to let kids know that getting drunk and killing yourself is not cool," said the teen.
GREATER AWARENESS NEEDED
He also noted that it is important that awareness is emphasised to reduce the level of alcohol intake among teenagers.
"Awareness is also very important, because we find that the youths are not aware and the persons who actually give them access to these drugs are not aware of the danger and harm it can cause to humans," he said.
"So we cannot downplay the importance of awareness, and it is important that we find methods to make persons aware," he declared.
The young lad is no stranger to outreach programmes as he started as early as six years old, helping in hospitals and various children's homes in Austria.
"I started a couple years back … in hospitals helping out specifically with children, and I have always wanted to know more about these things, and it is something I see myself doing in the future when I make my own money and when I'm on my own," he told The Gleaner.