SADD offers sobering advice against drinking, driving

By GABRIEL GOODWIN
Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE — Students Against Destructive Decisions hosted the Save a Life Tour at Wyandotte Roosevelt High School Wednesday encouraging all students to make responsible decisions when it comes to alcohol.

Kelly Lomas, SADD advisor and language arts teacher at the school, said she wanted to find something to hit kids between the eyes with a hard message about making the correct decisions concerning
alcohol.

“My primary focus was on our seniors,” Lomas said. “With their prom next week and graduation shortly after, we want them to make the right decisions and know how to celebrate responsibly. In next five or six years, they may enter into that lifestyle and will be more exposed to the decision (to drink and drive).”

Lomas contacted Kramer Entertainment, the company behind the program, at the beginning of the school year and began
planning the event. She said money allocated for SADD combined with money from the school’s general fund paid for the day-long event. The demonstration was held during school hours, then later
was open to the public, so the community could experience the presentation first-hand.

The presentation included a drunken driving simulator, which allowed all the students to experience the dangers involved with impaired driving. Many students tried their hand behind the wheel, but quickly learned the challenges of driving under the influence.

CeJay Rich, a Save A Life Tour presenter, said the simulator was specifically designed with a delay in gas and brake pedal and the steering mechanics were slowed down greatly.

He said the technique is used to simulate intoxication
by making the body’s natural reactions become near useless by delaying expected responses on screen causing the driver to overcompensate and run over pedestrians, hop curbs, spin out, and subsequently crash in the safety of the demonstration.

Rich lost his sister in a drinking and driving accident.

He made a presentation that used videos and images of accident victims coupled with testimonials from survivors.

Then, he described the experience of losing his sister in a the accident. He offered students one piece of advice: Don’t to be like me; don’t risk your loved ones to a bad decision.

Rich said his sister lost her life because she chose to drink and drive, so he took this job and the responsibility of teaching young people like them to make the right decisions.

“I want to make sure they realize the serious consequences associated with drinking and driving,”

Rich said. “I don’t want these young people to make a bad decision and be a source of heartache for their family or anyone else’s.”
Roosevelt senior Sarah Noble acted out a story from the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series written from the perspective
of a 17-year-old car crash victim. She said she could only bear 10 minutes of the presentation before being overcome by emotions due to a close cousin killed in an accident unrelated to drinking
and driving.

For her, she said it was the playback of the families’ reactions, the faces of the children involved and the images of the people killed and injured from such an awful experience that brought up past memories.

“I know what the families are going through,” Noble said. “I know what it feels like to lose someone in an accident and its even worse when it is because of a drunk driver, a situation that person may have been able to control a little better.

That’s why I think it’s very important for people to understand how big of a risk they’re taking when such a drastic decision like that is made.”

Noble said this presentation strengthened her decision to not consume
alcohol because it can have adverse affects on who someone is and their future.

“It is important that seniors see something like this before they go off to college, before they see graduation as one big party
because they can ruin that big step forward in their life by making that decision.” Noble said. “It has furthered my decision to stay strong and not to drink especially before driving. Even if you make the decision to drink, you have to do it in a safe way. You have to make sure you aren’t driving or putting yourself and others in harm’s way.”

Roosevelt Principal Thomas Kell said the presentation aimed to make the students stop and think about alcohol-related situations and make a better decision regarding the use or abuse of alcohol because students are going to experiment. It’s important they know the dangers of it, and the more knowledge they have, there less likely will be some kind of summertime tragedy.

“We try to do something like this at the end of every year to get it in students’ heads that there is a way to celebrate without putting yourself in danger,” Kell said. “I think the program today brought that to the forefront.

Hopefully, most of them will think before they act. If that happens, then I think this program was a success.”

(Gabriel Goodwin can be reached at ggoodwin@bewickpublications.com.)

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