Natalie Kulick July 7, 2022

Youth Spotlight: Vinayak Menon

I have been active as the Youth Sector Leader of my coalition for the past 4 years. I have found great joy in being part of the solution to the crisis of substance use which is taking the lives of many in our nation. Throughout my prevention journey, whether it was meeting legislators at Capitol Hill, organising town halls or simply volunteering at coalition events, I’ve been able to learn so much. I also have been able to interact with people from different communities across my state and nationally at CADCA events, which has broadened my perspective about prevention work and its challenges.

One of the ambitious projects that I am leading is a statewide drug deactivation campaign to combat the opioid epidemic. I worked with pharmacies, hospitalsa nd charities to distribute drug disposal kits. My focus was to reach the underserved pockets of low-income, rural areas that suffer disproportionately from the crisis. I was able to distribute over 7,000 drug disposal kits, which can destroy 630,000 unused expired prescription medications.

A few months ago, I had the great opportunity to speak at Georgia Capitol on Voice for Prevention Substance Abuse Prevention (SAP) Day. Here, I was able to connect with The Council on Alcohol and Drugs program manager for Georgia. Partnering with the council has helped me expand my Drug Deactivation Campaign across the state of Georgia. Since then, I have connected with coalitions across the state to reach all areas of my state. This includes the Metro Atlanta and Pike County Peer Assisted  Drug Deactivation Campaign (PAST), Fayetteville Youth Action Committee, Rockdale Drug-Free Coalition, Johns Creek DFC coalition, etc. I’ve been able to meet with many young leaders and mentor and guide them in developing campaigns of their own.

This summer, I was invited as the keynote speaker at the Future Prevention Leaders conference hosted by The Governor’s Prevention Partnership, Connecticut, addressing about 80 youth in their coalition. My 20-minute speech was a synopsis of my experiences in the prevention world and aimed to inspire youth to think big, act purposefully and use their voice. I wanted to expose youth to opportunities available to gain experience in prevention work at the local and national level.

I feel very privileged to be part of a great organisation like CADCA and the National Youth Advisory Council (NYAC). My goal is to reach as many youth involved in prevention work across the country as possible. I believe engaging youth from various socio-economic, cultural and racial backgrounds is critical to creating sustainable prevention strategies in future. No two communities are alike; hence, our prevention work needs to adapt to the unique challenges each community faces in order to create sustainable solutions. Lastly, I want to thank my coalition, CADCA and NYAC for providing me with this opportunity to serve and keep our communities drug-free.

Browse Our Blog