Penquis Valley Schools : Every 15 MinutesFebruary 01, 2008 - TRCPreface :It is the mission of the National Every 15 Minutes Organization is to prevent impaired driving tragedies and to save lives by building and supporting a national network of organizations with similar missions. To provide students with the best prevention and intervention tools possible to deal with making mature decisions while creating meaningful family dialog. FMI viait http://www.every15minutes.com/enter.html The work so far :At meetings held to date representatives from area Drug and Alcohol programs, Kiwanis, Law Enforcement , the PVHS student body , Milo Fire department and area parents were present. The group is dedicated to making the enactment and surrounding events and programs ones that will make an impact on students and parents for years to come ! Post suggestions, advice, or words of encouragement at www.ourtownsforums.net Here's what is going to happen in May...On May 13th and 14th of 2008, Penquis Valley High School, in cooperation with the Milo and Brownville Police Departments, the Milo Fire Department and Mayo Regional Hospital is preparing to bring the Every 15 Minutes Program to our school. The program is sponsored by the Piscataquis Public Health Partnership, a Healthy Maine Partnership. This is an intensive and emotional two-day drinking and driving awareness program that involves parents and their children. The name of the program “Every 15 Minutes” was adopted from the fact that every 15 minutes someone in the U.S. Dies from an alcohol related traffic accident. This program is designed to challenge our students to think about driving a motor vehicle and drinking, and how the deadly combination could affect not only their life, but also those who love them. Although this program focuses on drinking and driving, students need to understand that senseless tragedies happen everyday. Some of the issues surrounding these tragedies include speed, non-seatbelt use, and distracted driving. The first day of the program begins with the Grim Reaper removing pre-selected students from their classrooms. An officer then enters the class and reads that student's obituary, which is written by the parent(s). These students are then given an Every 15 Minutes T-shirt and their faces are painted white. They are sent back to class, but will not be able to talk with friends, etc. At the same time, parents are notified of their child's demise by uniformed police officers at their home or workplace. Later in the day, a simulated traffic accident will be staged in front of Penquis Valley School. One student will be arrested for OUI, one or two students will be injured and taken to the hospital, and one or two will be declared dead at the scene. All students (7th-12th grades) are encouraged to attend or participate. At the end of the first day, students involved in the actual role-playing will be transported to a local retreat. This simulates what it would be like to be apart from family and friends. During the retreat, students will be asked to write their parents a letter that begins: “Dear.....Every 15 minutes someone in the US dies from an alcohol related accident and today I died. I never got the chance to tell you...” Students will be asked to finish this letter to you. Parents will also write a similar letter to their children. The following morning, the students will be transported back to school for a “mock” funeral service for the deceased students. Again, the entire school (7-12) is invited to attend, along with their parents and community members. There will be speakers at the service, which includes some of the participants and their parents. The focus of this emotional event will be to guide the audience through the devastating effects of losing a friend or loved one This program will open the student's minds to think about drinking and their personal safety, as well as the adult responsibility to make mature decisions when human life is at stake. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call me at 943-7346 ext. 131. You can also visit the national Every 15 Minutes website at www.every15minutes.com. This program has recently taken place at Greenville High School, Old Town High and Foxcroft Academy, along with many other schools around the country. Here is your invitation : There will be a community forum for the Every 15 Minutes program on Monday January 28th from 6-8pm in the Penquis Valley High School Library. Any parent, guardian, or interested person is urged to stop in for a few minutes and ask questions, offer your support or volunteer to help !!! There will be a variety of involved participants in attendance to answer any questions and to listen to any concerns that may arise including: Local law enforcement Substance abuse and grief counselors Every 15 Minute Coordinators Student and Parent Representatives The success of this program depends on community support and involvement, so please make an effort to attend, even if you only have a few minutes.Sincerely, Katie Joyner-Robertson NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.