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! To start, you can introduce yourself.
Josh: I’m Josh Carter, a senior at Perryville High School. I’m involved with a lot currently. I work, Drug Free Cecil, athletics and some other stuff.
So, I chose to join Drug Free Cecil because I lost someone I was really close with to drug abuse. I learned that it doesn’t only affect that person, but a multitude of people, connections of people are affected. So even just helping and saving one person can help keep those connections healthy ya know what I mean?
Ainsley: Yeah absolutely, I completely agree with that. I’ve dealt with similar experiences, so I’ve seen that the effects of drug abuse are much bigger than you first expect.
So, how long have you been involved with the youth coalition and how did you first hear about it?
Josh: I’ve been involved since about my sophomore year.. so about 2018. That’s when I first got asked to go to North Bay for the summit and that's what kind of got me involved with the coalition
Ainsley: Well, you kind of shared a little bit about your why and you know that’s a big thing in the coalition. So, what does that question mean to you? “What’s your why?”, like why do we even ask that?
Josh: Yeah so it’s like your motivation. Like what motivates you to step up and be a leader in the community.
Ainsley: Yeah, for sure. So, why do you think it’s important to know your why? I mean, you sort of talked a little about how it’s your motivation, so why is it important to know your motivation?
Josh: Because it gives you purpose, it gives you the willingness to go out there and do it.
Ainsley: What role does prevention play in your life, like outside of Drug Free Cecil? And has it made its way into other parts of your life?
Josh: It plays a role in my life because I actively practice prevention. I don’t drink, or do drugs, and I encourage my inner circle not to as well.
Ainsley: So at this point I would ask you to share your why, but since you talked about that at the start, Has your why changed from when you started to now? I know since we have some similar experiences I can say that I started because of my personal experience and my why has changed and developed. So would you say yours has changed from the start?
Josh: Yeah so, it actually has changed. Before, my reason was just to step up and be a leader in the community, and during my time in the coalition is when I lost someone. And overtime, it hit me. I started to realize it doesn’t just affect that one person, it affects everyone around them.
Ainsley: Actually, that’s really interesting. It’s cool that you already had that outlet.
So how does your why continue to motivate you and keep you going?
Josh: I mean, it motivates me to do more, you know, there’s always something more you can do just to reach out to someone, even something that simple.
Ainsley: So if you had to come up with one word for your why what would it be?
Josh: Oh, probably connections would be the big one and not even just talking about the people you meet, but the people affected by the problems we discuss as a coalition.
Ainsley: Yeah that's a good one.
Do you see Drug Free Cecil or drug prevention in general playing a role in your future?
Josh: Yes, drug prevention especially because I just don’t have any interest in drugs, so I have confidence that I won’t have to worry about anything drug related in my life.
Ainsley: Absolutely, and I think that’s something really important to take with you as you get older and enter different stages in life like college, or things like that.
Josh: Yeah, I think the temptation and peer pressure only gets greater after high school.
Ainsley: I think it’s nice that we have this important set of skills already that we can use in our future and that kind of brings me to my next question…
What is something you have learned since you started with Drug Free Cecil?
Josh: Since I’ve started, I guess I really learned how influential young people can be. They are way more influential than adults, because it starts with them. I mean, if the younger generation wants a change it shows how big the issue is.
Ainsley: I agree with that 100%. I think we really don’t see how far our voice carries, and the coalition helps us to learn how much of an impact we can really have.
So, how has Drug Free Cecil changed your way of thinking?
Josh: Over time, I’ve learned that you have to step up and make your voice heard. And that’s what we do in the youth coalition within our community. We step up, make our voice heard, and promote drug prevention.
I used to be pretty shy and introverted, and the more time I have spent in the youth coalition the less shy I have become with things like putting my input in. All of us together brainstorm and I’m just not shy about keeping my ideas to myself anymore.
Ainsley: It’s definitely a teamwork thing and we all encourage each other to step out of our shells a little bit.
What has been your biggest takeaway, something that will always stick with you from the coalition?
Josh: It would probably have to be the opportunities it has provided me. You know, going on that North Bay trip didn’t seem like it would be anything more than a weekend trip but, here I am two or three years later and I’ve gotten to meet so many nice, cool people.
Ainsley: It’s such a cool experience. You may think at first it’s just a club that meets on Monday’s or whatever, but you have no idea what you will have the chance to do and experiences you gain.
So why do you think drug prevention is so important?
Josh: Well, I think it’s definitely a healthy thing. It’s obviously better for your health not to do drugs. But also, it’s good for your family and the people around you. They don't have to worry about you getting hurt, or overdosing and they can know you are safe. It’s just better to promote prevention because people are less likely to get hurt.
Ainsley: Absolutely, and I think what we do really speaks to younger generations and older generations too. We see what drug addiction can do so we use our voice as much as possible to stop the younger generations from getting involved in that risky behavior.
So, the last question is sort of broad, if the community had a WHY, what do you think it would be?
Josh: A community why would probably be they want to stand together in solidarity against drug use , they want to promote healthy habits and keep everyone safe. So yeah, it’s definitely a unity thing.
Ainsley: For sure! So that was all of my questions, do you have anything else you want to add?
Josh: No I think I’m good.
Ainsley: Okay, well thank you for meeting with me today, I hope you have a great rest of your week!
Josh: Yeah you too, take care.