MADD Canada

MADD Canada

October 01, 2013 11:00 ET

Smashed, MADD Canada's New School Assembly Program, Tours Canada

OAKVILLE, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Oct. 1, 2013) - With the new school year underway, MADD Canada is reaching out to students with a powerful new School Assembly Program to educate them about the dangers of impaired driving and encourage them to always make safe and responsible choices.

The program, titled Smashed, tells the story of Natalie, Pete and Kelly as they ditch a school dance to go to a house party with Johnny. Once there, Natalie drinks too much and when Johnny, who has also been drinking, leaves the party to get pot, a drunken Natalie makes the terrible decision to go with him. Pete does everything he can to stop Natalie from getting in the car but she won't listen. Kelly calls 911 and then she and Pete get in her car to follow their friend. What happens next is a nightmare that none of the young friends could ever have imagined.

"Smashed shows a realistic scenario in which a night of partying quickly turns to tragedy when someone makes the wrong decision," said MADD Canada Past National President Denise Dubyk. "We want students to watch this and give serious thought to how they can avoid situations and decisions which put themselves and their friends at risk."

The Smashed tour to high schools across the country was highlighted today with a special screening for students and staff of Cardinal Leger Junior High School in Edmonton. This special screening was presented in partnership with National Sponsors: Allstate Insurance Company of Canada and RTL-Westcan.

"Visiting schools with this educational program is a powerful way to stress the sober driving message and show young people that driving impaired is never a risk worth taking," said John O'Donnell, President and CEO of Allstate Insurance Company of Canada. "Allstate Canada and our agents across the country are proud to support the production and delivery of MADD Canada's School Assembly Program."

Young people are over-represented in impaired driving crashes. Youth between 16 and 25 years old represented just 13.7 per cent of the population in 2009 but they accounted for nearly a third (31.1 per cent) of all alcohol-related road crash deaths in that same time period. MADD Canada's School Assembly Program aims to get young people thinking about the dangers of impaired driving and the need to take precautions to protect themselves and their friends. Most importantly, it reinforces the fact that every single one of the deaths and injuries caused by impaired driving is entirely preventable.

"Making our communities safer from impaired driving is a responsibility and a goal we all share," said Grant Mitchell, President and CEO of RTL-Westcan. "Helping MADD Canada deliver that message to young drivers across the country is an important priority for Westcan and we are honoured to be part of this effort."

Following the fictional story of Natalie, Pete and Kelly, students see the compelling stories of three real-life victims of impaired driving:

  • Arsh Brar was just 20 years old when he was killed in a crash involving a driver who had spent the previous several hours drinking at a bar. Arsh's brother shares how the unimaginable loss has affected his family.
  • Keisha Trudel was riding in a car driven by a young man who had been drinking. The driver crashed and 16-year-old Keisha was killed. Her mom talks about the devastation the family has suffered.
  • Riley Russell barely survived being hit by an alleged impaired driver. She relates the severe and permanent injuries she suffered, and talks about how one person's terrible decision has affected her hopes and dreams for the future.

"We are incredibly grateful to these victims and families for sharing their stories. It is a very difficult thing to do but their experiences will encourage young people to make the commitment to always drive sober and to never ride with an impaired driver," Ms. Dubyk said.

The School Assembly Program has been a cornerstone of MADD Canada's youth services since 1994. The presentations are well-received by young people and positively impact their behaviour. In a 2012-2013 survey, those students who saw the program were more likely to say it is not okay to drink any amount before driving; that marijuana use will make someone drive a lot worse; and that those who drive while impaired will face serious consequences. Equally important, the message is being retained. In a follow-up survey three months later, the anti-impaired driving attitudes expressed by students was at the same or higher levels than it was immediately following the presentation. Further, the follow-up survey showed a higher number of students who said they planned ahead before going to parties where drugs or alcohol may be present, compared to the national baseline survey. Students were also less likely to have recently accepted a ride from someone who was impaired.

Approximately one million students will see Smashed, and the French language program, Impact, across Canada in 2013-2014, thanks to generous sponsors such as Allstate Insurance Company of Canada, Kia Canada and RTL-Westcan.

For more information, or to check out a clip from Smashed, please visit our School Assembly Program page in our Youth Services section on the MADD Canada web site at www.madd.ca.

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

Contact Information

  • Denise Dubyk, MADD Canada
    Past National President
    403-970-8733

    Kevin Wilson, Senior Communications Specialist,
    Allstate Insurance Company of Canada,
    905-475-4527

    Jim Davis, Managing Director,
    RTL-Westcan
    403-279-1691