Reaching teens through powerful messages from their peers

One of MADD Canada’s most uberlicious awareness programs is their School Assembly Program. This program tackles the problem of impaired driving among the age group which is most at risk.

According to MADD Canada, road crashes continue to be the number one cause of death among young people in Canada and alcohol is a factor in nearly 45% of those crashes. Can you imagine? Those stats make me so sad.

This year’s School Assembly Program, entitled Damages, was delivered to more than 1 million students in Grades 7 through 12 across Canada. How freaking fantastic is that! Check out this highlight of Damages. It brought tears to my eyes. Wow.


MADD Canada does everything it can to make their school assembly program speak to their target audience. They show the video on a giant screen with a powerful sound system and they use stories and people in the same age range. In this way, the program presents students with solid information and best practices in a style that will help them understand the issue of alcohol and/or drug impaired driving in the language they speak.

And in exciting news, The Dude will be a part of this coming year’s School Assembly Program, entitled MADD Long Weekend. MADD Canada flew a whole crew down to Freddy Beach (our nickname for Fredericton) and they spent an entire afternoon at our home taking video of him sharing his story of impaired driving.

I can only imagine how difficult it was for him to sit, facing a camera talking openly with strangers about what it was like to be in a 2-door sunfire with his grandmother when they were suddenly struck by a drunk driver behind the wheel of a 1-ton truck. One moment they were driving along, heading back to a family reunion on a gorgeous, sunny afternoon talking and laughing…and the next…his life was changed forever as he watched his grandmother take her last breath and die before his eyes. At 16 years old.

Imagine the courage it took to share this story?!?! Wow. I am not sure if I’d have the stones.

But he did it. He spent hours and hours with this team of individuals who work tirelessly to stop impaired driving telling his story over and over again. Painful but all in the hopes of reaching his peers and saving lives.

We’ve never been so proud. We’ve never respect him more. What a young man he is growing into.

How do your kids knock your socks off? How do you think we can reach young people to get them to stop drinking and driving?

Two years ago, my beautiful mother-in-law’s life was cut tragically short by an impaired driver and my stepson’s life changed forever. In honor of Donna and Jordan Kennie, please don’t drink and drive. Impaired driving is 100% preventable. Think about it.

Support MADD Canada and follow them on Facebook, Twitter (@maddcanada), YouTube, and on the Web.

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  1. The Dude's Dad says:

    Great post!!!

    The Dude has handled the past few years in a way I would have never imagined. He’s a strong, smart, and very brave young man.

    He has faced everything head on and managed success where many others including myself would have failed.

    I’m SO happy he is still with us and couldn’t be a prouder Dad!

  2. Another great post about MADD. and give that kid of yours a big hug from me. What an amazing man he’s becoming.

  3. Fantastic post, Natalie! I believe that the arts are one of the BEST ways to relay messages like these and make positive change. Three cheers for the Dude! I bet he did a spectacular job and that his grandmother is smiling down on him.

  4. Another great post, and what a smart way to get the message out. You must be so proud of his courage! Not everyone is brave enough to share such a painful story.

  5. I’m so proud of the Dude! I hope in some small way that this experience will help heal him as well. For him to share his experience and know he is helping other kids make the right decision, that’s just awesome. He totally rocks!

  6. The Dude is brave and obviously unselfish in his willingness to share his story.

    It breaks my heart when I hear news stories about vehicular homicide. I don’t know how the laws are in Canada. In the U.S., an accident caused by an impaired driver can and is tried as a felony — vehicular homicide. Conviction carries significant jail terms. Unfortunately, most teens (and practicing alcoholics) think they’re invincible. It’s not going to happen to them.

    I’ve seen both sides of parents permitting their children to suffer the consequences of their actions. I know many, many teens ticketed and jailed for DUI, then repeatedly “rescued” by well-intentioned, but misguided parents with the means to fight the legal system.

    My husband’s sister was killed by a drunk driver when she was 26. He was the officer “on call” for family notifications. When the lieutenant called John about the death of his half-sister, he had no idea it was John’s sister. I get chills every time I think of that long walk he took to his mom’s front door to deliver the news. Tragic.

    Bless your son and willingness to share his message. If it influences just one teen to stop and think — he may save a life.

  7. Dear Natalie, Scott and the Dude – you all deserve our respect for the way you have continued to deal with the dreadful experience you all suffered. I know how proud you must be of the Dude’s participation in this program and there’s no doubt that lives will be saved because of your efforts. Keep talking and we will keep passing the messages on.

  8. What a terrible thing for your family to go through. I am so sorry for your loss. Drunk drivers scare the bejesus out of me and because it is 100% preventable, it makes me sick to hear these stories. So important to spread these messages so other lives can be saved. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Wow, the Dude is very impressive. I think it’s important, though, for people to give personal testimonies about the seriousness of impaired driving. It’s suddenly real when you know someone it happened to. I know two young people lost through impaired driving accidents. What a travesty that these lives were cut short!

    On a different note, thank you so much for the mention!


  1. […] when he was approached by MADD Canada to take part in the 2012-2013 video and agreed. I wrote about here. I cannot imagine how difficult it was for him to share such horrific details about his experience […]

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