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Fort Macleod students watch sobering movie

Rahul D'Cunha, school outreach program co-ordinator

Rahul D’Cunha, school outreach program co-ordinator for the western region of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, spoke to F.P. Walshe school students about the dangers of drinking and driving.

As the credits rolled at the end of the movie, a smattering of applause echoed through the F.P. Walshe school gymnasium, the students uncertain whether it was appropriate to clap after watching people share heart-wrenching stories of how their lives were shattered by drunk drivers.
Gradually, though, more Fort Macleod students began to put their hands together until there was thunderous applause for “Long Weekend.”
“Long Weekend” is being shown by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in schools across Canada to educate teenagers about the horrific cost of drinking and driving.
“If there’s really one message you can take with you, that’s really just to start the conversation about impaired driving,” said Rahul D’Cunha, school outreach program co-ordinator for the western region of MADD Canada. “It’s not an easy topic, it’s not a fun topic, but it’ a really important topic.”
MADD Canada is showing “Long Weekend” at 47 schools in Alberta, B.C. and Saskatchewan this spring.
“Long Weekend is the story of teenagers Brian, his brother Malcolm, girlfriend Jessica and friend Raj, who head out for a weekend at the family cottage. They depart with the encouragement from Brian and Malcolm’s father to have a safe and enjoyable weekend.
Once at the cottage the teenagers embark on a weekend of heavy drinking and partying. Everything is going well until Brian decides he wants to drive Jessica into town for an ice cream cone.
Brian overcomes objections from his brother and friends by assuring them he has not had a beer for an hour, and that the ones he drank prior to that did not have any effect.
The simple trip to town ends with a horrific crash.
That fictional story is followed by heart-wrenching real-life stories from parents, siblings and friends who lost people they love in drinking driving crashes.
D’Cunha told the students to be especially careful as school winds down for the year and there are celebrations for graduation and the end of school.
D’Cunha encouraged the students to make sure they have a designated driver to provide rides home at the end of the night, or to make other arrangements such as having a sober friend or parent pick them up, or sleeping over at the party.
“It’s also important not only to look out for yourself but for your friends as well,” D’Cunha said. “If you do see one of your friends making a bad decision to get in a vehicle with an impaired driver or get behind the wheel when they’re impaired, hopefully you will step up and let them know there are other options.”
Even if a person doesn’t have a safe ride home at the end of the party, there are still options.
“Your parents would rather get a phone call from you at three four five o’clock in the morning, than to get a different call from the police,” D’Cunha said.
D’Cunha encouraged the students to talk to their family and friends about impaired driving, and to share what they had seen in “Long Weekend.”

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