21st Annual Drug-Free Kids Campaign Awards Dinner Youth Speakers
Stand Strong Coalition-Youth Sector (Vernon Hills, Illinois)
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.
Forks Community Prevention Coalition (Forks, Washington)
Fleck will be a Senior at Forks High School and is a native of Forks, Washington. He was inspired to get involved in drug prevention after witnessing the impact that addiction had on members of his extended family. He witnessed how substance misuse ravaged the relationships between family members and he never wanted to see that kind of disconnect happen to anyone else.
William first got involved in prevention through a local prevention club that over time evolved into the Forks Community Prevention Coalition. Through the coalition he assisted in planning and participated in events like Red Ribbon Week and Kick Butts Day, which provided community outreach and cessation materials for young people who wanted to quit smoking. William first encountered CADCA 5 years ago and has been devoted to their mission ever since. He always raves about how the Youth Leadership initiative has radically changed his life for the better. He transitioned from a participant in the conferences to now a devoted youth trainer. This experience has shaped his life by pushing him out of his comfort zone. He is now more than ever ready to teach all youth that he comes in contact with that prevention is indeed for everyone and not just experts. He wants to urge all youth to dream big and know that they matter and their voices matter as well no matter where they may come from. CADCA has truly been a blessing in helping Will shape his community for the better. The big reason William is involved in prevention is because he wants to create a safer environment not only for his future but the future of his friends and family for generations to come.