I am happy to say that this was another successful year where a lot was achieved through this project. But furthermore, I learned and deeply felt the impact that I was able to make on my community– how anyone could make a positive impact on their own. I want to start off my story with someone particular I met this summer:
I had an amazing opportunity to interview Carol Phillips, a Los Angeles District employee. One day, I was on Wilshire Blvd with two other friends taking surveys from people about the Opioid Crisis when Ms. Phillips walked up to us and invited us to her office that afternoon. I decided that I would bring my camera and mic so that I could interview her about the Los Angeles demographics and drug misuse. But my interview took a rather surprising turn as she revealed that she was previously a homeless heroin addict. I found her stories particularly touching, especially with the vivid details she would tell me of her experiences in the streets involving a lot of violence and prostitution. She shared her visions of one day making, not only Los Angeles, but the whole country an addiction-free country.
My friends and I have worked very hard to publish a booklet this summer which contains information on numerous drugs, especially their street name, price, what it looks like, and its side effects. We thought this was necessary in raising awareness to people who are vulnerable to opioids but are not sufficiently informed to distinguish them. We also added in stories (interviews, short stories, news articles, etc.) of overdoses, crimes, deaths, and other tragedies that happened in the Los Angeles area in the past few years because of Opioid Addiction.
At the same time, I also continued my collaboration with KYCC, an organization that I reached out to last summer to work on providing free Narcan treatment education. I met Hiroko Makiyama, a certified Narcan provider and educator to plan out five summer sessions in the Los Angeles City Hall throughout the summer, all of them were successfully done with many people showing up to help their families and friends.
What still shocks me to this day is that the vast majority of people who are affected by the Opioid Crisis are low-income minorities. Due to the relatively flawed and heavily productized healthcare system in our country, healthcare is limited only to those who can afford it. Hence, information about health is limited to those who can afford it as well. This summer I started a conversation about such an issue with Young Kim, a U.S. representative for California’s 39th congressional district. Even though we are in the early stages of planning out a possible policy that could change many lives for the Los Angeles citizens, I am confident that our conversation is going in the right direction.
My project back home grew extensively over the past two years. What started as a group of high school students walking around Los Angeles surveying people now turned into a small-scale movement consisting of around 80 students across California. I am content with what I was able to achieve over the course of two years, but I simultaneously recognize the fact that this issue persists throughout the country and will not rest until it is solved.
Lastly, I would like to thank the CSGC and the Katy Textor Farmer Grant for supporting my passions and endeavors to make our community and the world a better place.