The holiday season is upon us at last, and for many, it seems like it snuck up out of nowhere.
Between decorating the house, preparing for relatives to arrive and the seemingly endless list of Christmas concerts, it’s hard to fit anything else into our already full social calendars. That being said, the holidays aren’t all stressful. They also involve an incredible number of parties and festivities, often scheduled well into the month of January.
However, even these fun evenings turn disastrous in far too many cases, for the increase in celebrations has a direct correlation to the increase in impaired driving incidents.
During a single week of the 2010 holiday season alone, according to Statistics Canada, there were 1,291 impaired driving incidents. Compare this to a single week in April of the same year, wherein there were 940 impaired driving incidents. The difference is astonishing.
Though the rates have decreased dramatically over the last 25 years, they are still much too high, and Neelin High School’s own Teens Against Drunk Driving group is doing its best to help discourage such behaviour this holiday season.
TADD is an extracurricular group that has been in existence for several years. Each week, a number of passionate students meet to discuss just how they plan to promote safe driving within our school and community. Dec. 9-13 marked Neelin’s annual TADD Week, a so-called spirit week, full of activities to remind students of the dangers of driving while impaired.
The week kicked off with Ghost Day, wherein all TADD members and various other students took a vow of silence for the school day to honour lives lost in DUI-related accidents. All participating students spent the day dressed completely in black with the story of either a victim or a drunk driver hung around their necks.
In between classes on Wednesday, students were quizzed on their knowledge of impaired driving related facts. Questions were asked over the intercom and the first student to have the correct answer was given LifeSavers as a prize. This candy was used to represent how many lives could be saved by making safe driving choices.
On Thursday, the TADD representatives hosted an obstacle course during lunch hour, where students attempted to navigate their way around a classroom while wearing goggles designed to mimic the effects of alcohol on a person’s vision. The event proved to be an eye-opener to many students as they struggled to avoid walking in to desks and other items spread out around the room.
Human outlines also covered the school walls on Thursday, each accompanied by a victim’s story. The visual aspect hit close to home for many people, and allowed all students and staff to recognize just how fast accidents can happen and how tragic they can be.
We finished the week with a slightly adapted version of Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada’s Project Red Ribbon. The goal of the red ribbon is to symbolize a personal commitment to safe and sober driving throughout the holiday season and for the duration of the year while also encouraging others to do the same. The ribbons were left on the cars of willing students and staff to be hung on their antennas or rear-view mirrors to serve as a constant reminder of safe driving.
Throughout the entire week, a stand was set up in the school cafeteria to hand out “Because I Said I Would” cards and LifeSavers sporting the slogan “Don’t be a sucker, be a lifesaver.” “Because I Said I Would” cards encourage students to make and keep the promise of sober driving and to promise their loved ones that they support their decision to do so as well. People often need a little reminder of the promises they’ve made to themselves and each other, and that was TADD’s main goal over the entire week.
On top of the spirit week, Teens Against Drunk Driving members also collected Liquor Mart bags from around town to distribute to participating schools. These schools then had select classes draw holiday-related pictures on the bags that were later stamped with the TADD logo and returned to the Liquor Mart. The goal of this project is to remind shoppers of the dangers of drinking and driving, and how it can affect so many people besides yourself.
So while you are out and about this holiday season, take a look around for the child-drawn pictures on Liquor Mart bags or a little red ribbon tied to a car.
Please take a moment to think about what they represent and remember that if you’ve been drinking, don’t get behind the wheel. Let’s get everyone home safe this holiday season!
Drive sober and happy holidays!
» Rikki Bergen is a Grade 11 student at Neelin High School.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 16, 2013