Telfair County High School hosted a sobering and timely event this week for students who are planning to attend TCHS prom coming up this weekend. Championed by the local Telfair County Extension Office, the event themed The Mourning After featured active contributions from numerous local agencies coming together with one focus - teaching Telfair's youth about the very real dangers of driving while impaired."I believe our students participated in this event with positive attitudes and open minds," says TCHS Principal Eric Cowart. "My hope is that it will help keep our students safe in the future. Prom season always brings a hint of caution to our faculty and staff, and this awareness program will help enlighten our students to possible dangers they could soon face."
"I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all of those involved in the Mourning After program. The program contained several activities that were effective in reaching our students. The students are already in the hall discussing the activities and learned experiences from this event. With prom season upon us, I believe this awareness program reached students and will encourage them to make good, life-saving decisions in the future. Please accept my sincere thanks in all you have done to encourage the students of Telfair County High School to make safe decisions about drugs, alcohol, texting while driving and distracted driving. The following agencies were involved in this event and deserve our thanks: Telfair County Extension, Georgia State Patrol, McRae-Helena Fire Department, McRae-Helena EMS, McRae-Helena Police Department, Telfair County Chamber of Commerce and Telfair County Health Department."
The driving force behind the program were members of Telfair County Extension.
"The vision we had for the program was to engage the students in some creative ways in order to expose them to the dangers of impaired driving," explains Telfair County Extension Coordinator Laura Smith. "The dangers of impaired driving are always serious, but as students are preparing for prom, we wanted to give them firsthand knowledge on how deadly the wrong decision could be. I am so thankful for Mr. Cowart's willingness to let us and other state and local agencies come in to do this program. We couldn't have pulled this off without the help of the Georgia State Patrol - McRae-Helena Post, the McRae-Helena Police Department, the McRae-Helena Fire Department, the Telfair County EMS, Telfair Country Health Department and the Telfair County Chamber of Commerce. I also want to commend the students for taking this program seriously. We had fun, but all the students were very respectful of what was being done and the tools we used to show them the dangers of impaired driving - drunk goggles are no joke! You really cannot do simple tasks while wearing them. I hope that all parents will talk with their teen drivers about the dangers of impaired and distracted driving. Working together we can and will make a difference!"
"For several years our office has discussed hosting a program for prom participants that would highlight the dangers of impaired driving, whether that is texting or some type of substance abuse, added Telfair Extension Associate Amanda Aldridge who explained how the program worked. "This afternoon was spent educating kids on the importance of making the right decision with three mandated stations. Station one included a standard field sobriety test coordinated by Georgia State Patrol. Station two included the 'Dress to Kill' where kids suited up in the ankle weights, neck braces and drunk goggles designed to emphasize how being impaired effects common activity. Station 3 introduced impaired driving with the use of a golf cart while wearing drunk goggles. In addition to the program, students were given brochures - Zero-Tolerance Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, Georgia law bans all texting while driving - and additional statistics on how being impaired affects them as well as others. I would like to thank all of the participating agencies. Also, I would like to say a special thanks to Patrick Deloach for his handy golf cart."
"This event was a great success and the students were able to experience the major differences of sobriety and intoxication," says Telfair County Extension ANR Agent Colby Royal. "It really showed each group how being intoxicated challenges and hinders normal cognitive functions."
Participating Law Enforcement Agencies agreed, The Mourning After Program was a well-received success for TCHS teens.
"I would like to say thank you to everyone who had a hand in setting up and helping out during this program" says McRae-Helena Police Chief Glenn Giles. "This was a great event and I honestly feel that the kids who participated saw that they could not function normally while impaired. I hope that they now see how important it is to drive sober and not to ride with anyone who is not sober."
Giles shared a personal message for the impressionable young men and women who are making plans to attend prom this weekend.
"I hope everyone attending prom this year enjoys themselves," says the chief. "I hope everyone has the time of their lives. Nights like prom night are one of those times in life that you will never forget. Please let those memories be all good ones and not ones of tragedy. I urge everyone to please by safe and do what you know is right. Do not put yourself or others in danger by driving while impaired."