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Friday, 28 September 2012 09:41

Swift Current students learn the consequences of high-risk behaviour

Written by  Jessi Gowan
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Grade 10 students in Swift Current had a unique opportunity to view first hand the struggle of an injury survivor during an all-day workshop on Sept. 25, put on by the Drug Task Force and the Cypress Health Region, with the help of other agencies including fire, EMS, RCMP, a coroner, and a funeral home.

The workshop, a PARTY (Prevent Alcohol and Risk-Related Trauma in Youth) project had been discussed by effected agencies.
“The idea came up because the statistics for injuries in Saskatchewan caused by motor collisions in youth aged 15 to 24 are quite alarming,” explained Kelsey Macknak, recreation therapist with addiction services, Cypress Health Region. “It’s a dynamic, interactive day for kids to see first hand what an injury can look like, and follow the path of an injury survivor to get some perspective on how that can happen.”
The focus of the program is motor vehicle accidents, but the program will also educate students on other risky behaviour they may do every day. This includes texting and driving, texting and walking, and not wearing seatbelts.
“It’s a concern for youth everywhere,” admitted Macknak. “It is more predominant in certain communities, but we want to educate all youth and not only those that are high risk. We don’t want to miss anyone. Kids think it will never happen to me, but if the professionals think that, we’re not doing our job. Putting the education out there is the best thing we can do.”
Students started the day at a mock crash site, where they got a realistic look at what a car accident looks like.
After learning what happens during a crash, students were divided into smaller groups to participate in EMS, fire, and police sessions.
Students then faced ‘lunch with a disability’, where they were forced to feed themselves or their friends while they struggled with an ‘injury’ that could be caused by a car wreck.
Three more afternoon sessions included stops at the emergency room, rehabilitation, and addictions, followed by a presentation from an injury survivor.
“These sessions show youth what happens to you if you are involved in an accident, following the path of an injury survivor,” noted Macknak. “We try to put it in perspective so they can see the consequences of some things they do every day, like driving cars, consuming alcohol, or using drugs. We want to give them the knowledge to make informed decisions in their lives.”
The program has been offered within the region for a few years, and Macknak noted the other community agencies have been eager to volunteer their time and help out for the day.
The program is offered to 50 students each year, and although they would love to educate more students, the day is more effective if students are in smaller, more intimate groups so they can feel comfortable asking questions.
“The planning process also takes quite a bit of time, and since we don’t want to do this outside in the winter, we can only offer it in the fall and spring,” Macknak added. “The community has really reached out and wanted to bring this program here, so we are lucky to be able to provide this to the youth in our region. We are seeing a really great response, and I think kids are starting to believe that they really aren’t invincible anymore.”

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