Every 15 minutes someone in the
United States is injured or killed
in an alcohol-related incident. “Every 15 Minutes” also is a nationwide program
that takes a pro-active step in educating high school students about making
mature decisions when alcoholic beverages are involved.
In October Kaefer's high school was hosting this two day event. “Emotional” cannot even remotely describe this event – it was moving, heartbreaking, intense, powerful, and – hopefully – had a high impact on the participating students as well as the teenage audience (and the parents who were present).
On the first day a car crash simulation was held. Police, fire and ambulance responded to this emergency as they would to an actual crash. Five students were involved – one was pronounced dead at the scene, three died on the way to or in the hospital, and the (uninjured) drunk driver was given a field sobriety test, arrested and brought to jail, where he was taken before a judge for sentencing. The parents of these five students were notified by police (including the law enforcement chaplain) that their children were killed or arrested (of course these parents knew about it beforehand). In addition, every 15 minutes throughout the school day, another participating high school student’s obituary was read, detailing the alcohol involved incidents that caused his or her death.
On the second day, a “memorial” was held. A video of the previous day’s events was shown were we saw what happened at the hospital and in jail. There were speeches, the most memorable one by the undertaker who talked about what happens afterwards, what the consequences for the families left behind look like. I will never forget his image of “the empty chair at the dining table” that holds all the horrors in its simplicity. Letters the “dead” students had written were read. Most heartbreaking was the letter of a mother.
Yes, it wasn’t real – but it felt frighteningly real. I have never seen 1600 teenager being so quiet. A few seats down from me sat a senior boy who was openly weeping. Many of the teenagers (and all of the parents) cried. Tissue boxes were handed from one person to the next. It was moving and immensely powerful.
Did it have an impact? I have high hopes that all the students who actively participated will never be involved in drunk driving, and so I hope as well for all the other teenagers who witnessed this event.
Cross-posting at Vision and Verb, a global gathering of women of this age. If you have never been to Vision and Verb why not check it out now?