On April 25, the City of Lomita held the 2024 “Follow Me, I’m Gang and Drug Free” walk at Lomita Park, bringing together fifth-grade students from four local schools in a day of unity and education against gang violence and drug use. This annual event, sponsored by the Public Safety & Traffic Commission, has been a staple in our community for over two decades.

Students from Eshelman Avenue Elementary, Lomita STEAM Magnet, St. Margaret Mary and President Avenue Elementary walked to Lomita Park, escorted by volunteers and staff, where they gathered for welcoming speeches and a series of activities designed to promote a positive, drug-free lifestyle.

Thank you to Captain Gurrero and her team and the Los Angeles County Fire Department for showing up to support the event. Deputy Kellogg from Lomita Sheriff Station played a pivotal role in organizing the walk, ensuring safe passage for the 311 participating students. His dedication to the event is a testament to the strong partnership between the Sheriff’s Station and the local community. 

One of the event’s most powerful moments came from William Russell of the Department of Behavioral Services, who shared his journey from incarceration, to graduating from UCLA and eventually joining the Department of Behavioral Services. His story highlighted the possibility of change and the impact of positive choices.

Amber Salazar also addressed the students, recounting the tragic loss of her 22-year-old son, Dreason, to an accidental fentanyl overdose in July 2022. Her words served as a reminder of the real dangers associated with drug use and the importance of staying drug-free.

As part of the day’s activities, students and attendees were encouraged to visit the softball shed to see the new mural, which was created through the city’s “Common Canvas” contest. Thank you to councilmembers and commissioners for attending to help pass out lunch to thekids.  City officials had previously visited each school to discuss community and consent, sparking a discussion about public art and its role in creating a positive environment. The contest invited students to submit mural designs, with city councilmembers and commissioners selecting the winners.

The mural contest winners included:

Manahil Mehfooz from Eshelman Elementary, whose design featured “the little hills,” the Spanish translation of ‘Lomita,’ along with the message “We Rise by Lifting Others.” 

Miaah Cervantes, from St. Margaret Mar, created a colorful “LOMITA” with birds in the sky and scenes from the park, including a basketball game. 

Kayla Ohe, from Lomita Magnet, depicted natural elements such as the sun, clouds, trees, grass and flowers in her mural.

Man One, the artist, blended these winning designs into a cohesive mural and applied an anti-graffiti coating to ensure its longevity. 

Thank you to everyone who contributed to making this day possible, and we look forward to another mural contest in the near future!