Being a youth leader is SRSLY the best honor ever for Ananth Ghosh. The high school student was honored by CADCA recently as its 2016 Outstanding Youth Leader.
The Outstanding Youth Award recognizes an outstanding young person for service to a coalition and preventing substance abuse.
Ananth, 17, accepted his award during CADCA’s 26th annual National Leadership Forum to a standing ovation. He told the crowd of coalition leaders about how he was bullied as an elementary school student and applied his insecurity into action.
“I was told I wasn’t going to do anything important, but I sure did,” Ananth said.
Ananth joined the SRSLY Coalition in Chelsea, Mich., in the 6th grade, at the age of 11. In 2012, he became President of the Coalition’s Youth Steering Committee. The coalition has implemented a prescription drug disposal program called the Red Barrel. With the implementation of this program, Ananth’s coalition saw a 50 percent decrease in prescription drug use in his age group.
To attack the problem of marijuana, the coalition presented to their city council suggesting a ban on the sale of drug paraphernalia in the city limits. His group also provided parent education, partnering with doctors about the dangers of marijuana. Today, more than 65 percent of middle and high school students see marijuana as a harmful drug.
“This was great because, our high school marijuana use decreased,” Ananth said.
“In an age when young people have so many negative influences, Ananth has not just ignored these influences, but he actually helped mobilize other youth advocates to make meaningful changes in his community,” said CADCA Chairman and CEO, Gen. Arthur Dean. “He is a true leader, inspiring others to create positive changes in the community.”
Ananth attended the National Youth Leadership Initiative trainings over the years and attended its train-the-trainer sessions for the past year and half. He recently became an NYLI training consultant.
A busy junior in high school, Ananth spoke to CADCA in between arriving home from school from taking his SAT and tutoring a fellow student in chemistry. He wants to continue to be involved in the SRSLY coalition, as a CADCA trainer, and pursue his degree in corporate law, specializing in public policy. He has his sights set on several colleges, including Yale University.
“I definitely want to continue to be involved in policy change to make future generations safe from drug abuse and misuse,” Ananth said.
Of all his accomplishments so far in life, Ananth said receiving CADCA’s Outstanding Youth Leader award is one of the highlights.
“At first I was really confused because there are so many other youth who are doing outstanding things, but then I just felt really honored,” he said.
He plans to continue work with SRSLY (which, by the way, is text shorthand for “seriously”) reducing marijuana use in his community and to raise awareness about prescription drug abuse.
Learn more about the NYLI.