The event was spearheaded by our youth ambassador liaisons Julann Peters, Reading Specialist, and Karyn Schassler, PK-6 Counselor together with all the Germantown high school Youth Ambassadors. The purpose of the accident simulation was to demonstrate the consequences of driving while under the influence and/or being distracted by texting.
The event started with four students – Youth Ambassadors Kassie, Kirsten, Gianna and Austin – acting as crash victims. They created a scenario in which they discussed meeting up after drinking alcohol. The rest of the students were led to the site of the simulated accident. The simulation consisted of members the Germantown Fire Department using a “jaws of life” to open the vehicle and retrieve victims; Columbia County Sheriff’s deputies arresting a teen driver for allegedly driving drunk; a helicopter and paramedics landing on the school’s athletic field to take one student to the hospital; and a hearse driving the body of one of the students out of sight.
Student ambassadors shared that the event took teamwork and collaboration, especially when it came to reaching out to partner organizations/departments and scheduling their participation. After witnessing the reactions of their peers, the team judged the project a resounding success and stressed the importance of continuing “change projects.”
Students expressed how this event “hit home” as many of them have been personally affected by similar incidents in recent years. One youth ambassador saw fellow students in tears because it “felt so real”. Youth ambassador John Somma said, “I could tell that some people have gone through something like this based on their reactions. Some people got (so) emotional.”
Following the accident simulation, students gathered in the cafeteria to hear Marianne Angelillo, author of “Sharing My Stones” relate her personal testimony about losing her son to irresponsible driving. Her words were a powerful way to conclude the day’s activity.
Mentor Foundation USA would like to extend a special thank you to everyone who made this event possible: Julann Peters, Karyn Schassler, Germantown High School Youth Ambassadors, teachers, administrators and volunteers, Columbia County 911, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, the Germantown Fire Department, the Northern Dutchess Paramedics, MedFlight, the Fox Funeral Home and Columbia County Stop-DWI.