Young Leaders in Prevention

Youth Led, Adult Guided ~ National Youth Leadership Initiative 

with CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America)

by Zach Fincher

Alongside Alex Mcintire and Arlo Harold, Rock Solid and H.O.T.S. (Helping Out Teens Society) members, representing the San Juan Island Prevention Coalition, we went to a CADCA training in Seattle for a three day lesson on how to stop substance abuse of all kinds, particularly for underage youth.


When I started getting into our local prevention organization, I didn’t think that I would go to a National Prevention Conference and for my second time, no less. The other two had not attended a CADCA training before, so I had to teach them what we did last time. It was good for me to go over it, as well. The conference was jam packed with information and activities to help us understand how we as young people can led change in our communities. The term they used was “Change Agent”.  We focused on policy change and how we have a voice and how to take initiative for a cause. I would recommend this experience to other teens wanting to change their community for the better. And, sharpen your own personal leadership skills.


Our team will be focusing on underage marijuana use in our community. Unfortunately, most of the Youth Prevention Teams from Washington State were also having to focus on this issue in their communities, too. Most likely due to the passing of the I-502 law making pot legal for recreational use for anyone 21 years and older. Unfortunately, this seems to make marijuana easier for youth to get their hands on and people seem to think it’s not harmful since it’s “legal”. We are learning environmental strategies to help protect the youth in our communities. We hope to work with our local community leaders and look for ways we can reduce the underage use of marijuana in our community. We hope you will consider supporting our prevention efforts to help kids choose health as they grow and develop. Thank you!


Cynthia Stark-Wickman, our SJIPC Executive Coordinator shares, “The opportunity for San Juan Island youth to participate in the National Youth Leadership Initiative (NYLI) is a dream come true for me as the Executive Coordinator for San Juan Island Prevention Coalition! Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America’s (CADCA) leadership in Washington, D.C., has carried forward a vision of youth leadership development that is at the highest level of honoring and empowering youth as the leaders of TODAY.  The fact that Washington State’s Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR) helped to bring this training to Seattle also demonstrates their belief in youth leadership.  Our youth team was able to network with the Lopez Island Prevention Coalition team, as well as with nearly 200 youth from Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and other states across the nation.  I am proud of their hard work and the courage to take on this challenge!  Thank you!”

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