Youth Speakers

21st Annual Drug-Free Kids Campaign Awards Dinner Youth Speakers

Vrushali Thakkar

Vrushali ThakkarVrushali Thakkar
Youth Trainer
Forks Community Prevention Coalition (Forks, Washington)

Vrushali is currently a senior at Adlai. E. Stevenson High School and was entering her junior year when she first entered the field of public health.  Vrushali began her work in advocacy constructing a cost study with her coalition members and alongside Smart Approaches to Marijuana giving her the opportunity to present the team’s findings at her first press conference in Chicago.  Since then, she has spoken at a press conference at the Illinois State Capitol and another in Chicago focused on the youth use of edibles. The following year, Vrushali served as the director of the Marijuana Legislation committee and has continued to advocate against the repercussions that legalizing marijuana would pose on youth and underprivileged communities across the state of Illinois. As a director, Vrushali has been an instigator for several statewide social media campaigns and has organized and led a youth summit, community forum, and advocacy day in Springfield, Illinois for youth across the state to speak to their lawmakers. Continuing her passion of public speaking, Vrushali has presented to over 40+ groups of youth, lawmakers, health care specialists, law enforcement, etc. to build a statewide team of leaders to help combat legalization.  Recently, the marijuana legislation team has been working towards passing resolutions in their local townships against legalizing marijuana and successfully passed ordinances across various cities in Illinois. As a senior, Vrushali will have the opportunity to serve as president of her youth prevention group and hopes to empower incoming freshmen to make safe and healthy decisions. To build a unified force in Illinois, Vrushali and her team are currently working on building a statewide coalition with partnering prevention organizations.  Aside from prevention, Vrushali serves on the executive board of Peer Helpers, a group that provides peer counseling for students during lunch periods, works on mental health/body image awareness campaigns across her community, is a national business competitor, tutors Math and English to children at her local learning center, and coaches Indian folk dance to youth.

William Fleck

William FleckWilliam Fleck
Youth Trainer
Stand Strong Coalition-Youth Sector (Vernon Hills, Illinois)

I joined prevention because some of my extended family members had used and abused various substances and I saw how that affected their lives, especially the relationships between family members and them and I never want to see that kind of disconnect happen to anyone else. Before CADCA, I was in a local prevention club, now coalition, doing a lot of events like Red Ribbon Week, Kick Butts Day, and helping at prevention events in my community whenever they came up and taking any and all chances to go to trainings. The big reason I do all of this is because I want to create a safer environment not only for my future but the future of my friends and family for generations to come.