Members of York’s LaMarsh Centre for Research on Violence & Conflict Resolution will be joining the second annual Louise Russo Walk Against Violence Everywhere (W.A.V.E.) on Sunday, May 27.
This is the first year the LaMarsh Centre is co-sponsoring the fundraising walk and the first time the 11am-2pm event is being held at York — at the Toronto Track and Field Centre.
Organized by Louise Russo, who was paralyzed after being randomly hit in a senseless drive-by shooting in a Downsview restaurant in April 2004, the walk aims to raise awareness and funds to reduce violence.
After she was shot, Russo founded the non-profit organization W.A.V.E. and began sharing her story to inspire youth to take charge and reduce violence in their communities. Despite her loss of mobility, she refuses to slow down in her quest to make Toronto the Good even better.
The LaMarsh Centre and W.A.V.E. have much in common.
"Our research goals are aligned with their community goals," says Jennifer Connolly, director of the LaMarsh Centre. "Preventing youth violence and promoting positive youth relationships are the central research goals of the LaMarsh Centre. We share a vision with W.A.V.E. that each person in the community can help prevent violence."
Russo will once again lead the charge at this year’s Walk Against Violence Everywhere scheduled for May 27. "One by one we can make a difference," she says. Connolly and other LaMarsh Centre members will be joining Russo along with W.A.V.E. co-chairs MPP John Tory (LLB ’78), Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Julian Fantino and Toronto City Councillor George Mammolitti. Also expected are W.A.V.E. honorary members, including Toronto Mayor David Miller, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair and York Regional Police Chief Armand LaBarge (BA ’95).
Last year, participants in the first W.A.V.E. raised $45,000, which Russo has used to create five awards worth $2,000 each recognizing young people who have made an effort to make their communities safer places. The Louise Russo Youth Awards will be presented at this year’s walk to five students aged 9-19 and applied towards a camp experience or other educational experience and/or postsecondary tuition.
"It’s our hope the awards will help recognize leadership and develop accountability in youth, as well as bring students together to strengthen communities everywhere so we live, learn and grow in peace and harmony," says Russo, mother of three.
"Our youth are the future and we are so pleased to be able to support the W.A.V.E. and the youth awards that recognize the wonderful efforts of our young people working to prevent violence in their schools and communities," says Connolly.
For more information about the walk and the awards, visit the W.A.V.E. Web site.