Coalition Works to Keep Kids Off Drugs

Moises Torres, Staff Writer

For more than a decade, the Crescenta Valley Alliance has fought to prevent underage drug and alcohol use. Police detective Matt Zakarian and Glendale police officer Joe Allen founded the organization.

Its vision is rooted in educating the community about drugs and alcohol and their mission is raising awareness and creating a drug and alcohol free lifestyle. Through this vision, the alliance actively engages the community.

It provides information, resources, and workshops that educate Crescenta Valley’s community through various methods.

The youth group, an extension of the alliance, focuses its efforts on youth engagement. Lyova Zalyan, a Glendale city employee and student at GCC, coordinates their meetings and events.

Zalyan was involved in a peer-mentoring program in high school, and later began interning at the city clerk’s office. There he met Zakarian and was appointed with coordinating the youth group. A year later, the youth group finds is in full effect.

“We usually have about 20-30 kids that come to the meetings, but we have about 10 kids who are our core group,” said Zalyan.

Zalyan is in charge of creating a fun atmosphere while implementing the core values of the alliance. His goal is to show teenagers that they can have a sociable and fun time without drugs or alcohol.

“Our first event was a bowling night,” said Zalyan.  “Everyone was so nervous. We didn’t know if people were going to come, but we had more than 70 kids show up.”

While the alliance’s youth group has social events, they also help teenagers with other aspects of their lives. For example, they offer stress management workshops with the goal of helping them find positive outlets to manifest their stress.

According to a Live Science article, “10 Things Every Parent Should Know About Their Teen’s Brain,”there is an increase in brain matter during adolescence, which boosts mental faculties and processing power. Although their mental capacities increase, most adolescents have not cultivated skills to utilize their brain capacities effectively under stress.

Since the first year of the youth group’s inception, Zalyan has noted some positive changes in his core group.

“They’ve learned what to say to others about drugs and alcohol and how to reject them when offered,” said Zalyan. “They ask a lot of questions and also want to create a forum to inform other people.”

While working with youth, the alliance also offers resources for parents to take advantage of including workshops and information sessions that focus on identifying signs of drug usage. These services are created to aid parents in providing a healthy lifestyle for their children.

The alliance also holds joint meetings with other related organizations and prominent individuals from around the area.

Congressman Adam Schiff, (D 28th district), Senator Carol Liu, (D 25th district), and  VP of Crescenta Valley Town Council Harry Leon are individuals who attended in the past.

Through these meetings, both the alliance and their partners analyze their progress and develop new ways to improve their communities.

The alliance’s youth group holds their meetings at 4409 La Crescenta Avenue. Their meetings dates are every 1st and 4th Thursday of the month. The meetings run from 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m.