On May 1 the Arcola chapter of Students Against Drinking and Driving (SADD) partnered with P.A.R.T.Y. (Prevent Alcohol and risk-Related Trauma in Youth) to put on a day of information for grades 10 to 12 in Arcola. Auldene Craig, event coordinator for the mock crash, worked closely with Lorie Herchuk Norris, South SK Acquired Brain Injury Education and Prevention Coordinator, to organize the day. Along with various volunteers including students, parents, teachers, and professionals the day was a great success.
The youth were introduced to the planned day and reminded that what they were going to see was only a mock crash. Keeping this in mind they were ushered out of Prairie Place Hall to see what awaited them outside. Five students who had volunteered to be part of the mock crash put on convincing performances making the situation quite realistic. Two weeks before graduation made this presentation even more powerful in its message.
Emergency personnel then appeared on the scene and began to work. A silent crowd watched on as the scene unfolded. Watching, that is, as their friends who were acting in the mock crash were arrested, rushed away in ambulances, and pronounced dead. It was an emotional morning, which was to be followed with a full day of information for the students.
Throughout the day the youth attended information sessions presented by local professionals.
EMS, RCMP, nurses, occupational therapists, an addiction councillor, and a funeral home director all took the time from their busy schedules to address the concerns of driving while impaired. This included drinking, doing drugs, and even simply being tired at the wheel of a vehicle. In essence anything that might jeopardize the reaction time of the driver. The many professionals spoke about their experiences concerning impaired driving and the road to recovery for those that survive, while also addressing the feelings of family and friends who are left to deal with the tragic loss of their loved ones.
“The death of a young person has an effect that goes beyond imagination. It doesn’t just go affect family and friends but goes throughout the community.” Dustin Hall, Hall Funeral Services, said during his information session.
A somewhat shocking comment came during the addictions session. The councillor was speaking about marijuana and how it’s considered by many youth as “no big deal,” but that the majority of those in rehab clinics are there because of the seriousness of this drug. A student then acknowledged this attitude of, “Everyone smokes weed who cares.” Was followed by the surprising comment, “but here it’s more everyone does a line who cares.” This was in reference to the apparent availability of cocaine in the area.
The students actively participated in ‘lunch with an injury.’ The students were given random items to simulate what someone with an injury might experience while simply eating a meal. Armed with goggles, oven mitts, socks, and other objects the students discovered what someone with the loss of fine motor skills, loss of sight, partial loss of sight, loss of hearing might have to live with. Some of the students were even tethered to their chairs unable to move from their seats with their arms also tied down. These students relied on others around them to get their meal and then feed it to them, unable to do so themselves.
Later in the day Clayton Yukoski, a survivor of drinking and driving, addressed the group speaking of his experiences losing his older brothers. One was lost to a drunk driver and the other to mixing pills and alcohol. When older he began drinking and, as many youth feel they are invincible, he would then drive. This choice to drink and drive led to his difficult road to recovery. While driving under the influence his friends were injured, even killed. Yukoski walked away twice, but in a motorcycle accident he was seriously injured having to go through years of surgeries and physical therapies.
In ending the day the one thing that all presenters and professionals were hoping that the students have taken the stories they heard to heart. They were encouraged to decide where their “stupid line” lays. What is too stupid for them to do, the line that separates independence, safety, and health from that of injury, pain, suffering, and death.
Everyone makes their own choices, which is why it is important for youth to be aware of what can happen if their decision is not thought through. People are faced with risks every day, but minimizing them is important. Driving is dangerous, but there are precautions to take when going out on the road. A simple choice between a seatbelt or not could be the choice between surviving an incident or not.
Ultimately, the day was to empower youth and allow them to recognize risk in order to make informed choices. A day that wouldn’t have been possible without the community, they appreciate the support of the: Arcola Optimist Club, Carlyle EMS, RCMP Carlyle Detachment, Hall Funeral Services, Carlyle Fire and Rescue, Arcola Health Centre Nursing Staff, Town of Arcola, Fern Lodge Rebekahs, Willmar Rec Club, Gayle Wyatt and Cathie Haddow, Arcola School Staff, Arcola School Community Council, Eileen Corrigan, Arcola SADD Chapter, Auldene Craig, Lorie Herchuk Norris, Clayton Yukoski, Lori Hannem and Nina McArthur, Vanessa Kavalench, Deb Kennett-Russill, Susan Burgess, Regal Autobody, Theresa Luedtke, Gaylene McArthur, Ruth Maygard, Connie Bryce, Kyle Bentes, Elizabeth Birch, Kathleen McArthur.
And also to the coordinators of the mock crash: Trent Lee, Reece Cayer, Dustin Hall, Kirk Butt. As well as the students who were the volunteers for the mock crash: Alina Craig, Brandi Smith, Taro McArthur, Amanda Hannem and MacKenzie Craig. And to the students that took part in the day.