FRN helps combat alcoholism
By STEVEN ALLEN ADAMS, Staff Writer
The Tyler County Family Resource Network is inviting the public to see the Save A Life Tour.
The National Save A Life Tour will by at Tyler Consolidated High School Thursday, April 30. The doors will be open to the public starting at 3 p.m. and lasting until 5 p.m.
The National Save A Life Tour is meant to be a shocking approach to alcohol awareness, incorporating tragic video, personal stories of the loss of loved ones by peers, and a sobering drinking and driving simulation experience. This tour has earned itself national acclaim from colleges, universities, high schools, and military events nationwide.
“Like other drunk driving events the goal is the same: to increase awareness of the tragedies that can be suffered from an alcohol-related motor vehicle accident,” explained VISTA Volunteer Melody Reed. “What’s different about it is most of programs is this one actually gives a hands-on experience to the students. It’s reality for them; like participating in the simulation experience.”
The centerpiece of the tour is the portable multi-million dollar simulator that puts students at the wheel of a virtual car and gives them the effect of driving drunk.
“It prints out citations, so it’s possible one of our students could run over a pedestrian or be involved in an accident while they’re doing the simulation experience,” described Reed. “It’s different than just sitting in the auditorium getting another lecture.”
While the tour has been to West Virginia before, Tyler County is part of a trial program, where students are tested on the knowledge of drunken driving before the simulation, and are again quizzed at the end to test the impact of the program.
“They just added a research-based component to the program,” said Reed. “They’ll have kiosks set up and students can anonymously give information about what their opinion of drunk driving is or what the dangers are associated with it. After they have participated in the simulator experience they can go back and answer the same questions. All that information will be sent back to the school so they can see whether the program had an actual impact.”
The goal of the inviting the public and state officials is to spread the program around to other counties and other organizations.
“We’re hoping to get state SADD officials here and MADD officials here to come see the program,” remarked Reed. “They have a lot of funding available and they have conferences every year and maybe they can bring this to their conference.”
FRN hopes to bring the Save A Life Tour back every two years so a new batch of seniors and juniors can try the program. Students who try the simulator are asked to have a driver’s license. Doing the program every two years also gives other counties a chance to bring the program to their schools.
“What is happening is people are requesting money for the program – because it’s very expensive – and they’re not getting it,” explained Reed. “What the Department of Transportation is hoping to do is make funding for this a line item. It’s not something they’d make available to every county in the state all at once, but maybe other counties can participate in it.”
Sgt. Ron Didion, representing the DOT Highway Traffic Safety Program, hopes the students take advantage of the lessons the Save A Life program has to offer.
“This is a fantastic opportunity that most students never get to experience,” exclaimed Didion. “It’s a perfect time with prom time too. They get to experience the reality of drunken driving. They get the actually feeling for what it’s like. Hopefully we can prevent fatalities.”
The program wouldn’t be possible without the help of generous local donors. Sponsors include: Hope Fellowship Church, Linda Leasure with State Farm Insurance, Tyler Insurance, Walmart, Tyler Consolidated High School, Tyler County Family Resource Network, and the WV Department of Transportation. The program costs $5,250 to bring to the county. Thanks to donors, FRN raised more money than expected.
“We’re up where we need to be,” said Reed. “We’re actually up past where we need to be. What we don’t spend will be used for other programs. We’re thinking about contributing to the graduation lock-in, helping buy prizes are providing some form of entertainment for that.”
TCHS Assistant Principal Krista DeVaughn is excited to see what impact the program has on high school juniors and seniors.
“Our hopes are to create a lasting impression on our students by bringing in such true-life programs as we get closer to Prom and graduation,” said DeVaughn.
Reed hopes this brand new program will become a grand success.
“This is the first time we’ve ever put this much money into a one-time program, so we’re also nervous…but I think it’ll be fun,” remarked Reed.