Grade 10 students from Broadview School and Whitewood School got a dose of reality on Wednesday, with their participation in the annual Prevent Alcohol and Risk Related Trauma Youth (PARTY) program.
Students began the day by visiting the scene of a mock car crash where youth (student actors) were killed and injured. The mock scenario also included an impaired driver who was arrested and taken into police custody.
“Lots of (the students) were really quiet and I think it’s because it’s a shocking experience- seeing it all laid out before your eyes,” said Paige Wyatt, student actor and Students Against Drunk Driving president. “You can imagine it happening, even if it is just a mock set up.”
The Grade 10 students were divided into groups and rotated through a series of session through the hospital emergency room, RCMP detachment and Rehabilitation and Addiction Services.
The PARTY program was possible with the help of school faculty, Broadview SRC, Grenfell EMS, Broadview Fire Department, RCMP, Students Against Drunk Driving, Grenfell Coroner Walter Ashfield, Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region and Tubman Funeral Home.
“Kids like to be experiencing things and that’s what this is, it’s reality education,” said Lorie Norris, South Saskatchewan Acquired Brain Injury Outreach coordinator.
The Saskatchewan Acquired Brain Injury Outreach is tasked with developing the operational manual, organizing the PARTY processes and helping communities establishment of their own programs.
“We started assisting communities with PARTY because it’s a Canadian initiative…but more so it not only focusses on drinking and driving, but also talks about risk taking,” said Norris.
“It gets kids to not only see the consequences of a trauma and a stupid decision, but also to identify the risks in their lives and to really think about what steps they can take to make themselves, and those around them, safer.”
Co-organizer Jay Quibell said PARTY opens the students’ eyes to the dangers involved with poor decision making and risk taking.
“It’s important to do this (program) now because now is when they’re starting to drive and now is when they’re starting to sample and experiment with things,” she said Wednesday afternoon. “Now is the time for them to see what it can do to them.”
While feedback forms had not yet to be reviewed, Quibell and Wyatt agreed the students were noticeably impacted by the program.
“We had some kids worked up and some had to step back and remove themselves,” said Quibell.
“I think it really does affect them,” said Wyatt. “Some of the kids were crying because it felt so real.”
Concluding this year’s PARTY program was an Injury Survivor Presentation made by Dennis Scott and his daughter Ricki-Lee Scott of Whitewood.
Norris said the Scott’s presentation put a real face to a hypothetical situation.
Several students and adults held back tears as the pair recounted the brutal car accident their family suffered on Dec. 23, 2005.
Dennis and his three children were travelling eastbound on Highway 1 at about 6 p.m. when they struck a moose crossing the highway. While his three children escaped uninjured, Dennis was trapped and compressed under the twisted metal. The weight of the moose had crushed the side partition of the drivers’ side, ultimately breaking Dennis’ neck and causing an incomplete spinal cord injury.
After two hours of extrication, Dennis was freed from the vehicle and transported to Regina General where he spent two weeks in the intensive care unit. He was later transported to the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre for two months where he had to relearn basic mobility. Dennis and his daughter Ricki-Lee told their story honestly and without humility, recounting vivid details and events.
While their collision may not have been predictable or preventable, Dennis stressed the impact the tragedy and trauma had not only on him, but also on his friends and family.
“Some of you are driving and there’s a real risk,” he told the group of students. “There’s always a risk. You have to think about that when you get behind the wheel because incidents are out there waiting.”