By Mary O’KEEFE
In the late 1990s, Mark Yeager wanted an idea on how to help a club at Crescenta Valley High School called Students Against Destructive Decisions.
“It was a new club and we were thinking of ways to get them some recognition,” he said.
Yeager came up with the idea to offer a car as a prize in an opportunity drawing. It wasn’t a new car, but that didn’t matter; it was enough of a draw to get people to an outreach event.
“We had quite of few kids show up,” he recalled.
And now he, as the director of Chaplain Services at the YMCA of the Foothills, has planned a similar outreach to bring attention to all of the organizations that support kids in the area.
On Saturday, the first Annual YMCA of the Foothills Life Walk for Safe & Healthy Youth Life Skills will fill the sidewalks with kids from La Cañada Flintridge to Tujunga. Two groups of kids will walk to Rosemont Middle School. One group will begin at the Verdugo Hills YMCA and the other at La Cañada City Hall. They will begin the walk at 10 a.m. and make their way to Rosemont, arriving about 10:46 a.m. Those who walk will receive a ticket for the car opportunity drawing.
Waiting at the Rosemont campus will be organizations in the area that support kids. Those who walked and those who just show up at Rosemont will then go from booth to booth collecting stamps on a sort of healthy kid passport. Once their passport is filled, they then get another ticket for the drawing.
“This way, even if they can’t do the walk they can still participate in the drawing,” Yeager said.
Both YMCA locations center on supporting kids by offering several leadership programs including Youth in Government. The two Ys partner with other organizations throughout the local communities. Saturday’s event brings together in one place the organizations that focus on kids.
“What I wanted to do is to be able to get all of our service organizations in one location,” he said, “and let kids know about them. If a teen knows of an organization that can help others, they can refer another teen to them.”
The Glendale and La Cañada Unified School Districts will have booths as will Verdugo Hills High School. The event has also garnered support from all law enforcement agencies that serve the area.
“And everything is free,” Yeager added.
The drawing for the car will be at Rosemont at 12:16 p.m. Students must be present at the drawing to win the car. The event is for currently enrolled students from ninth to 12th grades. Registration is required at the YMCA, 1930 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada or 6840 Foothill Blvd., Tujunga.
The event is sponsored by the YMCA of the Foothills Chaplain Services, The Alliance (formerly the Crescenta Valley Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coalition) and Star Mazda Glendale.