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WASHINGTON, DC – The Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) hosted its 32nd Annual National Leadership Forum this February. This four day conference was attended by four full-time CiC staff and two very special guests. Nicolo Caminiti, senior at Bernards High, and Joshua Sprinkle, junior at Ridge High, came along for the insightful and lively experience. This was the first year CiC was able to bring youth.

The conference is attended by hundreds of coalitions and youth from all across the country each year. Dynamic leaders in the prevention space bring their success stories and knowledge to share with the broader communities. The youth sessions were tailored to young minds and hit on topics like mental health, substance use, messaging techniques and strategic planning. These sessions allowed for Josh and Nic to network with other young leaders who were doing such important work in the prevention field.

Cadca Nico JoshA major highlight of the conference was on the third day when New Jersey coalitions met with our state legislators. Nic and Josh stole the show as they captivated the minds of those representing our legislators and other NJ coalition members. They spoke with staff members from the offices of Senators Menendez and Booker, as well as Congressman Malinowski who has supported CiC’s  work previously. They were able to explain the work they do within the Youth Leadership Council (YLC) and why it is so important to them. They were also able to express thanks for the funding CiC receives that backs programs like YLC.  To have Nic and Josh speak on behalf of CiC and youth in the Somerset Hills community was a major moment for us, not only as a coalition, but for those we serve. To celebrate this incredible achievement, the boys spent the day with Maria, our Youth Engagement Coordinator, in D.C. sightseeing and exploring museums. The day was certainly full of relationship building and bonding over shared experiences.

On a similar note, Senior Jabeen Sheikh, was just accepted into CADCA’s National Youth Advisory Council. This is a two year commitment that will follow her into college. The focus of this council is to increase youth’s knowledge of substance misuse, equity and overall health. Some key features include leadership opportunities, professional training development, and community hours. It was an extensive application and we are so proud of Jabeen for this accomplishment.

We are grateful as a coalition to have these incredible opportunities for our YLC youth. This would not have been possible without the funding we receive from our two federal grants, Partnership for Success (PFS) and Drug-Free Communities (DFC), that allowed us funding to take our youth as well as our dedicated staff members like Maria. Josh, Nic and Jabeen continue to spread their learning with the rest of YLC and will soon present it to our Board members for our Mission Moment in March. They are truly inspiring and intelligent individuals and we are grateful for the opportunity to continue to work with them.