Calgary, Alberta – The dangers and consequences of driving impaired are on the lesson plan this week as MADD Canada officially launches its 2017-2018 School Assembly Program, titled The Pact.
Road crashes are the number one cause of death among teens and young adults, and alcohol and/or drugs are involved in more than half of those crashes. Every year, MADD Canada produces a new School Assembly Program to educate students in Grades 7 – 12 about the risks of impaired driving.
Today, MADD Canada hosted a special screening of The Pact for students at St. James Elementary Junior High School. It marked the official start of a national tour that will see the program presented to about 1 million Canadian students throughout the school year. Joining MADD Canada for the special presentation were National Sponsors Allstate Insurance Company of Canada and RTL-Westcan Group of Companies, both of which are generous, long-time supporters of the School Assembly Program.
“Young people are dramatically over-represented in impaired driving crashes,” said MADD Canada National President Patricia Hynes-Coates. “Our School Assembly Program shows, in a direct and graphic way, what can happen when someone drives high or drunk. We want young people to understand that these terrible tragedies are 100% preventable, and that it is never safe for them to drive impaired or ride with a driver who’s impaired.”
The Pact tells the story of Zoe, who is at a new school and struggling to fit in. After landing in detention for skipping class, she meets James, Charli, Nisha and Will. When they invite her to a party, Zoe is happy that she is finally making friends. At the party, Nisha has too much to drink. Charli is sober and can drive her home, but is worried about leaving Zoe behind. James offers to drive Zoe. Even though James has been smoking pot, Zoe convinces herself and her friends that all will be fine because he wasn`t drinking. When the car crashes, the whole group of friends is changed forever. Devastated by the tragedy but hoping to build something positive, the friends form a special pact.
With the support of Allstate Insurance Company of Canada, RTL-Westcan Group of Companies and other program sponsors, MADD Canada will deliver approximately 2,200 presentations of The Pact at schools across the country, urging students to make their own pacts now – rather than after a tragedy strikes – to keep themselves and their friends safe from impaired driving.
“Allstate Canada is proud to partner once again with MADD Canada to deliver this powerful and moving presentation,” said Allstate Insurance Company of Canada President and CEO Ryan Michel. “Having this dialogue with young people and providing them with the information they need to make safe choices is key to reducing the tragic toll taken by impaired driving.”
“Our drivers are out on the roads day in and day out, so road safety is a vital issue for our organization,” said Grant Mitchell, President and Chief Executive Officer of RTL-Westcan Group of Companies. “Everyone at RTL-Westcan supports this effort to protect young people and make roads safer for all.”
In addition to the fictional storyline in The Pact, the presentation also features emotional real-life accounts of victims of impaired driving. In fact, it is the victim testimonials that have the most lasting impact on students. This year’s program tells the stories of:
- Carol Grimmond – Carol and her twin brother, Colin, were travelling to their mother’s home when an impaired driver, going the wrong way on the highway, struck them head-on. Colin suffered minor injuries. Carol was seriously injured and airlifted to hospital where she died.
- Craig Watson – After a day at the lake, Craig and three high school friends piled into a van for the 5-minute drive to one of the friend’s cottages. All had been drinking and no one was wearing seat belts. The driver lost control of the vehicle. Craig was ejected from the passenger window and the van rolled over him, killing him.
- Maia Vezina – Maia and her mother Pat were hit head-on by an impaired driver. Pat suffered broken bones and internal injuries, was on life support for a time and required numerous surgeries. Maia broke both femurs, both ankles and both arms, her left knee, pelvis, right wrist, left clavicle, a rib and left cheekbone. Both women have had very long recoveries and still suffer the effects of their injuries.
For more information, or to view a clip from The Pact, please visit http://madd.ca/pages/programs/youth-services/school-programs/the-pact/ .
Evidence shows that MADD Canada’s strategies to reach young people are working. In a 2015-2016 survey of students who saw that year’s School Assembly Program, titled 24 Hours: 80% of respondents said the program was effective in delivering its message about not driving while impaired; two-thirds of respondents said the presentation will be effective in changing behaviours regarding impaired driving; and 97% of respondents supported a similar presentation the following year.
For more information, please contact:
Patricia Hynes-Coates, MADD Canada National President, 647-919-6233, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anna Weigt-Bienzle, Senior Communications Specialist, Allstate Insurance Company of Canada, 905-475-4527 or email@example.com.
Zoë LeParque, Communications Manager, RTL-Westcan Group of Companies, 780-472-6633 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note to Assignment Editors: For information on when The Pact is visiting your area, please contact Deb Kelly, MADD Canada Communications Manager, at 1-800-665-6233, ext. 240 or email@example.com.