Written by Ainsley Erdner
Each month on the Drug Free Cecil blog, we will feature an interview with a member of the Drug Free Cecil Youth Coalition. This interview will give you a look into why they decided to join the DFCYC and what it means to them.
Ainsley: Hey! You can start by introducing yourself.
Langston: I am Langston Belser, I go to Elkton High School and I’m in ninth grade.
Ainsley: So how long have you been involved with the Drug Free Cecil Youth Coalition and how did you first hear about it?
Langston: I’ve been involved since this past summer and I heard about it from my Dad.
Ainsley: Okay so, when we say what is your why what does that really mean to you?
Langston: I think it shows what you want in life.
Ainsley: Yeah sort of like what you want from the youth coalition?
Ainsley: What role does drug prevention play in your life and besides the youth coalition, has it made its way into other parts of your life?
Langston: Yeah, I know a lot of people that have done drugs and I’ve tried to help them and encourage them to stop.
Ainsley: Yeah definitely, so has the Youth coalition helped motivate you to be a positive influence on those people?
Langston: Yeah, for sure.
Ainsley: I definitely relate to that, that's great. Now, why do you think understanding why you do this is important?
Langston: Because helping people is what we all do, and what we want to do.
Ainsley: Right, so understanding your passion helps to motivate you and encourages us to do what we do as a coalition. So, what is your why?
Langston: To inspire more people to get off of drugs, and since I play sports I want to help other people who may play sports because drugs will negatively affect them. Doing drugs will not help you build as a person or an athlete.
Ainsley: Absolutely. Has your why changed since you started or has it pretty much remained the same?
Langston: It has stayed the same, I really want to help the people in the community become better people.
Ainsley: Yeah, I think we could say we all can agree that is a part of our why as a coalition because it's a common goal we all have. It’s cool that we all get to come together with different reasons but can share a common purpose.
So how does your why keep you going? How does it encourage you?
Langston: It encourages me by waking up every day and thinking about the decisions that are helpful to my friends and community. I don’t want to be an athlete that doesn’t help anyone. I want to bring people together.
Ainsley: I really like that you want to help the community, but being an athlete you have to be very selfless and think about others a lot, so it's great that you use that as your motivation.
How would you describe your why in a word?
Langston: I would say, moved.
Ainsley: That’s a good one, I haven't heard that one yet. So, do you see the youth coalition playing a role in your future?
Langston: Yes. I can see it changing the way life goes right now how people just go along with tragedy. Someone might get stressed out and immediately turn to drugs and alcohol, but I believe that we can teach people how to face through problems head-on and get through them without relying on a substance.
Ainsley: So even when you are out of the youth coalition after graduating, do you think what we do will always have an impact on how you feel about those issues?
Langston: Yes, I hope to keep moving on with it.
Ainsley: That’s great, I’m really glad to hear that.
So what is something that you have learned since you started with the coalition, maybe something you didn’t know before?
Langston: One thing I didn’t know was how much a parent can affect a child’s life. A kid could be just like us but their parent isn't there providing supervision, so kids have access to drugs and alcohol from different people, and the parents don't even realize it. Especially right now with COVID and being in quarantine.
Ainsley: I think the coalition definitely opens our eyes to the amount of freedom some kids have, and not necessarily good freedom but lack of supervision. However, one thing I always noticed is it often goes unnoticed how many kids are passionate about drug prevention. As young kids, we are often stereotyped to get involved in drugs and other risky activities but when you come to the youth coalition you realize how many kids aren’t getting involved in that.
So I think it’s cool that we can come together and we are able to learn together because some things go unrealized and our goal is to speak up about them and bring them to light.
Has DFC changed your way of thinking?
Langston: Yes, it has. It has definitely changed the way I see certain things. I have learned to stop assuming whether someone has done drugs and alcohol, and realize that I could be wrong.
Ainsley: I completely agree. Kind of like we mentioned earlier you can see someone at school and assume that they do drugs and drink alcohol, but that could really be a kid you meet at a Drug Free Cecil meeting.
I also want to say, your answers are really unique. It’s cool for me to do these interviews and hear different youth perspectives, and you’ve said a lot that I haven’t heard before so that’s great!
So what has been one of the biggest takeaways from the youth coalition?
Langston: Probably the knowledge I’ve gained on what drugs can truly do to a person or even a young kid.
Ainsley. Definitely. So why do you think prevention is so important?
Langston: Because it will encourage people to find solutions for the problems we are seeing in the community. Rather than just see someone struggling and ignoring it because you don’t know what to do, prevention can encourage the community to speak up and change people's actions.
Ainsley: I completely agree. I think it’s very optimistic of us to say we can put a complete stop to the issues we are facing, but we have seen prevention help by decreasing the amount of drug use, especially among youth.
So, for the final question, what role does the community have in prevention? And if the community has its own why what would it be?
Langston: To stop drugs from making someone a completely different person, and having negative effects on families. We see people give up on helping those who are struggling because it's not working. And with youth, it seems to go in one ear and out of the other.
Ainsley: For sure, and also I would say with promoting prevention it's coming off a little better because it's youth talking to youth and we can reach them at a different level.
Langston: Yeah, because we are the same age as them.
Ainsley: Exactly, and that's not to say our work hasn’t had an effect on adults, because we have seen that it can impact adults as well but that peer to peer aspect of our work is super important.
Ainsley: So that’s all the questions I have. I hope you have a great rest of your day!
Langston: You too, Thanks!