SOURCE: MADD Canada

MADD Canada

October 20, 2017 06:30 ET

Newfoundland and Labrador Students See Impact of Impaired Driving Through MADD Canada's Latest School Assembly Program

Special screening of new educational film hits close to home for Queen Elizabeth Regional High School students as they hear story of a former student killed by an impaired driver

OAKVILLE, ON--(Marketwired - October 20, 2017) - Nicholas Coates will never visit his old school, Queen Elizabeth Regional High School. He'll never attend a reunion with classmates. He'll never meet current students and tell tales of his own high school experiences. All those opportunities were taken away when an impaired driver killed Nicholas in 2013. He was just 27-years-old.

But Nicholas' spirit and his story will be shared with students there today as his stepmother, and MADD Canada National President, Patricia Hynes-Coates visits Queen Elizabeth Regional High School for a special screening of the latest School Assembly Program, titled The Pact.

"Nicholas graduated from Queen Elizabeth Regional High School, went on to university, got engaged and was pursuing his dream job in civil engineering. He had his whole life ahead of him. Until an impaired driver took it all away," Ms. Hynes-Coates said. "We want the young people who see this show to truly understand that one person's decision to drive impaired can devastate innocent lives and erase people's futures."

Every year, MADD Canada produces a new School Assembly Program to educate students in Grades 7 - 12 about the risks of impaired driving. Road crashes are the number one cause of death among teens and young adults, and alcohol and/or drugs are involved in more than half of those crashes.

The 2017-2018 program, titled The Pact, tells the story of Zoe, who is at a new school and struggling to fit in. After landing in detention for skipping class, she meets James, Charli, Nisha and Will. When they invite her to a party, Zoe is happy that she is finally making friends. At the party, Nisha has too much to drink. Charli is sober and can drive her home, but is worried about leaving Zoe behind. James offers to drive Zoe. Even though James has been smoking pot, Zoe convinces herself and her friends that all will be fine because he wasn`t drinking. When the car crashes, the whole group of friends is changed forever. Devastated by the tragedy but hoping to build something positive, the friends form a special pact.

"Young people are at high risk for impaired driving crashes," said Ms. Hynes-Coates. "This program provides the information, tools and encouragement for them to make safe sober driving decisions. We want them to make a pact with one another and with their families that they will never take the risk of driving impaired or riding with an impaired driver."

Joining MADD Canada for the special presentation is Newfoundland Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC). NLC is a long-time supporter of MADD Canada and its School Assembly Program, and is directly sponsoring 10 presentations at schools around the province this year.

"NLC is proud to partner with MADD Canada to bring this important education program to students," said Craig Hapgood, Manager of Operations for Regulatory Compliance for NLC. "The Pact opens a direct and impactful dialogue with students about the senseless tragedy of impaired driving, and encourages them to take steps to protect themselves and their peers."

In addition to the fictional storyline in The Pact, the presentation also features emotional real-life accounts of victims of impaired driving. In fact, it is the victim testimonials that have the most lasting impact on students.

For more information, or to view a clip from The Pact, please visit http://madd.ca/pages/programs/youth-services/school-programs/the-pact/.

Evidence shows that MADD Canada's strategies to reach young people are working. In a 2015-2016 survey of students who saw that year's School Assembly Program, titled 24 Hours: 80% of respondents said the program was effective in delivering its message about not driving while impaired; two-thirds of respondents said the presentation will be effective in changing behaviours regarding impaired driving; and 97% of respondents supported a similar presentation the following year.

Note to Assignment Editors: For information on when The Pact is visiting your area, please contact Deb Kelly, MADD Canada Communications Manager, at 1-800-665-6233, ext. 240 or dkelly@madd.ca.

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