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Over 100 participants gathered at the STRIDES 5k Run/Walk start line on Sunday, Nov. 21. Courtesy of Elliott Rector.

On Nov. 21 in Playa Del Ray, California, more than 100 people laced up their sneakers for an all too urgent cause: suicide prevention.

The STRIDES 5k Run/Walk — orchestrated by Schweitzer Fellows and UCLA Master of Public Health candidates Ashley Roberts and Anne Sutkowi — marked the culmination of a STRIDES, a 10-week running-focused suicide prevention program orchestrated by Schweitzer Fellows and UCLA Master of Public Health candidates Ashley Roberts and Anne Sutkowi. (Click here for an earlier interview with Roberts and Sutkowi.)

STRIDES 5k Run/Walk participants did their part to raise awareness that suicide is preventable. Courtesy of Allyson Hemstreet.

Four students from Olympic Continuation High School — where Roberts and Sutkowi implemented STRIDES — completed the race.

In the ten weeks prior to the race, these students gave STRIDES their all. They took part in skill-building sessions on topics including stress management, positive body image, and goal setting, as well as 5k training sessions that prepared them for the 5k.

“I am so impressed by the efforts put forth by the students at Olympic High School, and could not have been prouder when each of them crossed that finish line,” Sutkowi said. “I hope the STRIDES students and other people in their lives recognize their efforts and their abilities to achieve their own personal goals.”

Schweitzer Fellows and STRIDES Co-Directors Ashley Roberts and Anne Sutkowi with Olympic High School students Arkeli Johnson, Joana Gutierrez, and Kia Walker. Courtesy of Allyson Hemstreet.

“We hope that our program and outreach have helped increase awareness that suicide is preventable,” Roberts said. “If we remove the societal stigma that currently exists around talking about suicide and other mental health issues, those who need help most will feel more comfortable and supported when seeking it.”

For a full race-day photo album, visit the STRIDES Facebook page.

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