By Craig Funston
I went to a party the other day—and all day affair, no less. Well, it wasn’t so much a party as a P.A.R.T.Y. (That’s an acronym for “Prevent Alcohol and Risk-related Trauma in Youth” and for clarity purposes, I will refer to it as Party (using the capital “P”) for the rest of this paper.
The venue was Medicine Hat Regional Hospital and the purpose, in my opinion, was to shock the you-know-what out of area grade 9 students. I took some from my school, and two other schools were likewise represented, making for a total of approximately twenty-five students, plus parents and teachers.
The gist of the programme is to expose the youth of the area to the risks of drinking, speeding, and texting while driving. There were also some segments on alcohol and drug abuse. I know that’s a brief synopsis, but it’s hard to put into a few sentences what I was exposed to in a few hours.
I was impressed with the real life scenarios throughout the day, both by the presenters (from the EMS to the ER to the RCMP), as well as through the testimonies of a man and and woman who showed up to give their stories about respective car accidents that left them disabled for life. Other real life scenarios came via DVD clips, testimonies of people maimed in accidents, with others expressing their outrage and grief at having lost loved ones.
It was pretty graphic, gripping,and gut-wrenching.
I was also impressed with the students from the schools that came. Bow Island’s St. Mike’s and Medicine Hat Christian High, as well as my own Cherry Coulee, were present. The students were well-behaved and focused; even the adults behaved themselves!
It’s the matter of real world education. I can’t think of a more accurate way to describe what happens when stupidity and cellphones are combined. Kids attending the Party have known of other kids who have combined cars with drinking and texting, topped off by speed. Just as an aside, there has been an unbelievable rash of deadly accidents over the these past two to three years in the the County of 40-Mile . No doubt kids from area schools knew some of the victims.
This is what I call “real world education”: More often than anyone in educational authority cares to admit, core subjects bear little resemblance to the real world. Dates, formulas, experiments, and, yes, even some grammar assignments, are important, to be sure, meeting the learning-outcomes.
But are dates, formulas, experiments, and assignments that important? Absolutely! Perhaps even more than ever. But one issue I have with the day school system is that there is so little real life context to apply all this (usually) great information.
That’s why the recent Party event challenged me personally. While I don’t drink and drive (actually, I don’t drink at all), I was challenged about my occasional slip-ups when it comes to texting—thus, there was a real world context moment for me.
Seriously, it made me stop and think; or better, stop and text.
And likewise for the kids: Again, they’ve known of people who have texted or drank while a driver or passenger, or were hit by someone who who was. That’s not seemingly irrelevant book information—it’s real life.
Party needs to be even more aggressive: Hollywood (here I go again) glorifies the pleasures and highs of uncontrolled drinking, the excitement and rushes of getting behind the wheel of a car, the innocence and importance of drug use. They rarely, if ever, showed the wasted minds and bodies, the broken families and communities, and the utter hopelessness of every form of substance abuse.
So kudos to the sponsors of Party. Keep up the good work and graphic presentation.
It’s the one party every young person should go to.