By Mary O’KEEFE
On Saturday, kids who are currently enrolled in grades nine through 12 have a chance to walk with their friends and fellow students, learn about what their community organizations offer and get a chance to win a car.
The Second Annual YMCA of the Foothills Life Walk will be held at Rosemont Middle School on Saturday. The day will begin at 10 a.m. with students choosing to walk from two separate locations – Verdugo Hills YMCA and La Cañada Memorial Park – to Rosemont Middle School.
At Rosemont Middle School, the students and their families can visit several booths that provide information on organizations in the community that support youth.
“We are bringing three groups [of kids] together,” said Hank Paz, an organizer of the event. “La Cañada, CV [Crescenta Valley] and Verdugo Hills high schools.”
Mark Yeager, director of Chaplain Services at the YMCA of the Foothills, based this event on a past outreach program he was involved in – a club at CVHS called Students Against Destructive Decisions. The club began in the 1990s and Yeager wanted a way to get kids interested in it. What better way to get a teen’s attention than to give away a car?
It worked then so he brought the idea back to the community last year as a way to pique the interest of kids and get them to the Life Walk event. Last year was successful and this year even more children and organizations are involved.
Yeager and Paz said they are concerned about kids in the area who are dealing with issues from drugs to school pressures and don’t know they can get help.
“We want them to walk away from this event with the knowledge they have a support system when things are not going well,” Paz said.
“There are a lot of great organizations doing a lot of great work,” Yeager added.
He hopes that parents also attend the event to learn about organizations that can support their kids.
Of course the chance to win a car is a great incentive.
“I approached Mike [Smith of Bob Smith Toyota] and let him know what we were doing,” Yeager said.
Smith was more than happy to help facilitate the car, which is a 2008 Ford Escape with low mileage.
Smith has worked with Yeager in the past and admires his dedication to the community and the youth in the community.
“I loved his idea of having these kids coming from various places to [learn about the community organizations] and to be eligible to win a car,” Smith said.
Bob Smith Toyota has a history of supporting youth and schools in the area.
“[We want to do] anything we can for the young people who are tied up in knots [with pressure] and don’t know how to get help,” Smith said.
Students have two chances to win the car. They get one ticket after they complete the walk to Rosemont Middle School, then they get a second ticket when they go from booth to booth and get a stamp from each organization in a Life Walk card.
Click on the QR code to download a registration form or visit www.ymcafoothills.org. A parent or guardian must sign the forms. Winner must be present to win the car.
Students can begin their walks at either La Cañada Memorial Park, 1301 Foothill Blvd. in La Cañada or at Verdugo Hills YMCA, 6840 Foothill Blvd. in Tujunga. The walks begin at 10 a.m. and at 12:16 p.m. the winning ticket will be drawn at Rosemont Middle School.