The Verdugo Hills Interact Club and the Delphi Academy Interact Club of the Sunland-Tujunga-Shadow Hills Rotary Club joined together to launch the first Foothills Students’ Anti-Drug March. The walk, which organizers hope will be an annual event, was much like the existing annual AIDS Walk and Walk Now for Autism. It stretched over two miles in length, starting from Bolton Hall on Commerce Avenue in Tujunga and ended at Sunland Park.
A couple of hundred students, escorted by three LAPD patrol cars, walked west down Foothill Boulevard sidewalks in support of a drug-free world. The “One Step at a Time” walk was aimed at educating the youth about drugs and correcting common misconceptions.
At the end of the walk at Sunland Park participants found a carnival-like atmosphere, with speakers, music and booths. There were representatives from Phoenix House, Sober Living, Community Christian Church and the Youth for a Drug Free World which handed out pamphlets and presented public service announcements on the ill effects of drugs.
Verdugo Hills High School Interact Club co-presidents Conan Zhao and Noemi Agagianian welcomed the participants, explaining why they decided to create the anti-drug walk. They also emceed the event. Delphi Academy Interact Club co-presidents Tia Marashlian and Krista Baysdorpher helped introduce and acknowledge the contributors to the event.
Members of Phoenix House and Sober Living had many heartwarming stories of how they overcame drug and alcohol addiction. They shared their personal stories with the crowd.
Rotarians Richard Stewart, Carol Loweree, Susan Boughton, Mike Lucas and Ellis Robertson were brought up on stage and acknowledged for their support of the successful event. Mike Lucas, past president of the Rotary Club, thanked all involved for the successful event and shared some of his personal stories that inspired all present.
Senior Lead Officer Richard Wall of the LAPD and Nick Mauzer of the Drug Free World were the keynote speakers. Officer Wall also led the group in the drug free pledge, written by the Interact Clubs, and which the participants signed.
The primary purpose of the walk was to educate the community, according to organizers. Their intention is that this walk will bring the community together year after year and help bring a solution to the current drug-related problems the community is experiencing.
Zhao was particularly enthusiastic about the event and was overheard saying, “Wait until next year! They are going to have to close down Foothill Boulevard!”