By Kim Hutchison
The bleachers of Ponoka Composite High School’s gymnasium were overflowing as students and staff gathered to watch a Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Presentation.
PCHS guidance councilor and teacher, Katy Syson introduced presenter Amad Khan who warned those in attendance to prepare for an intense 45 minute video called “Dead on Arrival” – a video concentrating on the consequences of getting behind the wheel impaired or getting in a vehicle and being the passenger of someone else who is.
The video was about a group of four teenagers getting ready to go to a party. They decide to have a few drinks then get in their friend’s SUV because he reassures them that driving to the location won’t be a problem. They get in a gruesome collision resulting in the driver’s death, severe spinal injuries that leave his girlfriend paraplegic and two friends cut and bruised but emotionally scarred for life. One poor decision and the way it effects and ultimately transforms the lives of parents, teachers, classmates, friends and those involved in the accident that are still breathing, is heartbreaking. At the end of the video the lead singer of a band named “Alive on Arrival”, who was in a serious accident that occurred under similar circumstances, speaks about his experiences followed by the real life stories of people who have lost their loved ones to alcohol-related accidents.
One man met the love of his life and they were getting ready to get married, buy a house and start a family. One day she went out for a little while and when he hadn’t heard from her in hours, he began to worry. His father reassured him that everything was fine but he soon discovered she was hit by a drunk driver and died on the scene of the accident. In one afternoon he lost his entire future and shares his story and pain with the audience.
“This presentation shocked students a little bit. It really hit home,” said Syson. “It was so relatable. When we’re young we tend to have that feeling of invincibility. The video didn’t hold anything back. It showed the reality – the tears, the aftermath – of making bad decisions that are avoidable,” she said.
At the conclusion of the presentation, principal Ian Rawlinson said inspirational words about the importance of calling a loved one or a cab when drinking before it was time for students to return to class to get their report cards and go home. Tears were streaming down the faces of many and RCMP officers and Syson were on hand to provide comfort and support to anyone that was upset.
It was clear students truly appreciated what they saw and will hopefully keep it in mind if they find themselves in a similar situation in the future.
The presentation was made possible through the support of the Ponoka Kinettes.
“We’ll do our best to support anything involving kids in our community” said Kinette Darlene Maas. “We believe the more knowledge kids can get, the better. This MADD presentation was unique. There wasn’t a person standing and speaking to them for 45 minutes. What they saw was graphic and it made them realize that it is very possible to be the unlucky one in these situations,” she said.
From Nov. 1 to the first Monday after Jan. 1, the MADD project Red Ribbon Campaign will be taking place. One is asked to tie a MADD ribbon to a visible place in or on his or her vehicle to boost awareness about drunk driving during the holiday season when it tends to reach an all time high.
For more information visit www.madd.ca.