(ANS – Costanza) – Among the ideas for celebrating “World No-Tobacco Day” at Costanza, in Romania, there was one involving eleven youngsters from the Salesian Oratory, who with the help of the Sport and Youth Committee in Costanza and the “Antidrog” Association visited the “Poarta Albă” penitentiary.
Taking part in the visit on 31 May were also other youngsters from the Ostrov sixth-form college; the number of visitors was over twenty, the same as the number of those in the prison who were waiting in the chapel for them to arrive.
After initial introductions there were some “ice-breakers” in which on a one-to-one basis they were able to get to know each other, their names, ages, interests and hobbies, and other experiences.... The youngsters from the Oratory especially were struck by the openness and honesty of the prisoners as they spoke about themselves, their mistakes and their sufferings.
Then using talks and short films the dangers of smoking active or passive were explored and discussed by the youngsters.
In the second part of the programme, the central item for the day, the young prisoners were divided into two teams and there was a four-sided mini-football tournament played with great vigour but also fairly and in a very good spirit. The Salesian Oratory team came second after that from the Ostrov six form, with the others from the prison following.
In the third and final part of the programme, when the prisoners had their lunch, the visiting youngsters were able to explore the premises and even go into some of the cells. The Deputy Director of the penitentiary fully convinced of the benefits for both groups of youngsters, cordially invited the youngsters from the Oratory and the sixth form to come again and visit the prisoners collaborating in the future.
“This experience made us see how easy it could be to find yourself behind bars and deprived of freedom. And at the same time it helped us see the importance of preventing the use of drugs and other dangerous substances in general and to avoid violent conduct” one of the eleven youngsters from the Salesian Oratory said.