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MADD to bring its message to students

    Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) will make special presentations at schools across the district this fall thanks to funding from the Rainy River Substance Abuse Prevention Team and Rainy River Valley Safety Coalition, in conjunction with the Ontario Chiefs of Police Association.    Each presentation will be geared to the age of the audience.    For instance, a multi-media assembly with proven anti-impaired driving messages will be shown to high school-aged students.    The presentation will speak to the young people in their own language and is displayed across three large projection screens.    As well, some courageous victims will share their stories with the students and show them how alcohol and other drugs mixed with cars are a deadly cocktail.    They also will expose false perceptions about alcohol, drugs, and driving, including peer pressure, drinking games, mixing pot and alcohol, binge drinking, and accepting rides from alcohol- or drug-impaired drivers.    “The MADD Scientist and the Quest for Power,” meanwhile, is an elementary school assembly which provides children with life strategies to say “no” to alcohol and drugs, handle peer pressure, and stay safe.    The assembly addresses the growing problem of substance abuse amongst youth, including the fact that alcohol consumption begins at a very early age.    Studies show that young people who drink before the age of 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependency than those who wait until 21.    The MADD program is designed to help educate youths about the risk of harm associated with alcohol and drug use, and help them form beliefs and opinions about alcohol and drugs, as well as impaired driving, before they are faced with peer pressure.    “These presentations and awareness boards are very important to our community because they are helping our youth,” said Hugh Dennis, co-ordinator of the local Substance Abuse Prevention Team.    “We are very proud to be able to bring this great presentation here and hope it will help our children to make the right decisions and protect themselves from harm,” he added.    In order for the MADD presentations to be possible here, the Ontario Chiefs of Police Association donated $3,500 through the sale of its magazine “Not for Adults,” which is available only at Food Basic stores.    The safety coalition gave $575, which was to be put towards the presentations at schools in Fort Frances and Emo, while the Substance Abuse Prevention Team offered $2,025.    “We are excited to be able to help bring programs like these into the community and are lucky we have such great support from other community groups like the safety coalition and substance abuse board,” said OPP Insp. Dave Lucas.    “These programs are important for the kids,” he stressed.    Here are a few startling facts:    •road crashes are the number-one cause of teen death in Canada;    •one in eight deaths and injuries from road crashes is a teenager;    •45 percent of teens killed on the road have been drinking;    •20 percent of high school students in the last year drove after smoking cannabis (marijuana); and    •on average, every day in Canada just under four people are killed and 187 are seriously injured from an impaired-driving crash (one out of the four Canadians killed is under the age of 24).

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