Roshan Kumar was shocked when he read about two cases of human trafficking that occurred near his home in Dublin, Ohio. He thought he lived in a community that didn’t have to deal with things like that.
“I was 14 years old at the time,” Roshan said. “The reality check that came from my research shocked me, and I saw it as a way to help my community.”
He talked to his mother, who recommended he join the Asian American Community Services. At 14 years old, he joined AACS as a youth ambassador to raise awareness about human trafficking. In that youth-led prevention role, he learned about the Ohio Youth-Led Prevention Network and applied to join the OYLPN Youth Council.
The OYLPN Youth Council consists of up to 25 high school students from every region of Ohio that advocates for youth-led prevention with state legislators, empowers teens to stand up for their communities, promotes protective factors in peers’ lives to prevent drug use, and organizes and leads the We Are The Majority Rally, an annual event that draws in thousands of teens to celebrate the healthy choices youth make. Roshan went to his first WATM Rally not as a participant but as a leader.
“Not only was it the first time I had ever been at the We Are The Majority Rally … but it was also my first time on such a big stage in front of so many people,” Roshan said. “My fellow council members and adult ally at the time helped me work through my initial anxiety, gave me a nice start and a place to collect my thoughts, and I was able to present really well.” Participating in the OYLPN Youth Council for four years has helped Roshan grow as a person, public speaker, advocate, leader, and a future doctor.
“I didn’t always use to be a leader,” Roshan said. “I was shy… always second-guessed myself. I kept to myself a lot, but being a part of OYPLN forced me to take a leadership role. I was able to grow from a pretty shy kid to someone who was able to take the role of leadership and continue and grow as OYLPN continued.”
“I’m going to become an osteopathic physician, and a lot of being an osteopathic physician comes from being able to talk to your community and being able to connect with your community as well as possible,” said Roshan. “OYLPN and PAA have both given me opportunities to talk with various people across Ohio whether it be normal kids around different schools in different parts of Ohio or it be school principals or it be the fellow leaders I have to interact with on a month-to-month basis in the Youth Council.”
Roshan says today’s teens face pressure from multiple angles. Adults pressure them to behave in a certain way and do good in school. Teens’ peers pressure them to behave in a different way and climb the social ladder. Being involved in youth-led prevention has taught him to find friends who value healthy living and to find healthy coping mechanisms that work for him when he is stressed. Furthermore, today’s teens are stressed and anxious about COVID-19 and the killing of George Floyd and the resultant, nationwide protests. Please join us in supporting youth like Roshan through these difficult times.
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