By Tim Huether
Freshman Impact, Caught in the Moment, a program through Community Organized Resources for Educating our youth (C.O.R.E.) is rolling into Martin May 5 and is seeking help from the community.
Freshman Impact: Caught in the Moment is a powerful one-day prevention program for young teenage students. The students see up close and learn through hands-on activities the possible consequences of wrong choices and the lasting effects physically and emotionally on their bodies, their families and friends, and their community.
The program promotes communication and developing rapport between the youth and law enforcement, fire, and rescue personnel.
The program will be involving students from Bennett County, Kadoka, Philip, New Underwood and Wall schools.
In order to pull off this outstanding program, twenty-one local volunteer group leaders are needed.
Bennett County Emergency Management manager Jeff Siscoe encourages community members to help out by becoming group leaders and asks that they call him as soon as possible at 685-6991 to ensure they have enough help to make this wonderful program happen. If he is unavailable when you call, please leave him a message and he will get back to you.
“There could be as many as 300 kids here that day and the group leaders will split up the kids in seven groups with three leaders per group,” said Siscoe. “There are seven stations in the morning and every group will rotate through every station.”
“We need 21 group leaders and have six at this time so we need more help,” said Siscoe.
Group leaders will need to be there at 7 a.m. and assist until the end of the school day, about 4 p.m. on May 5.
This program will include both Freshman and Sophomore students from the attending schools, according to Siscoe.
There will be a mock accident on the street by the Booster and a life flight helicopter will land on State Street and fly out with one of the patients from the mock car accident. One student will be transported off in an ambulance. This will be followed by a mock trial and a mock funeral.
“This is great program,” stated Siscoe. “It’s worthy of community input and community assistance. I’ve got some really good hope it will help. You don’t want anything bad to happen to the kids and that’s why we do this, to try to avoid this kind of thing from happening.”
Siscoe pointed out that even though the program is a mock exercise, it will be an emotional experience.
The overall mission is working to save teen lives through interactive preventative education.
The program brings together local, county, state and federal resources to educate students, parents and school staff on destructive teenage issues and the consequences. Law enforcement, fire and rescue departments can use the program as inter-depart mental training for their personnel in emergency response skills, working as a team with other area departments, and promoting community relations.
As a team, everyone works together to promote young teenagers making safe choices and preventing destructive behaviors. It is important to give our young teenagers the tools to develop life-long skills and values to make the best choices.
All community members, law enforcement, parents and first responders are invited to share in the lives of the community’s teens and/or be a part of this awesome program.
The idea for the Freshman Impact program came after a conversation Deputy Rick McPherson had with Pat Carlson, a family friend and federal defense attorney. Deputy McPherson was talking about the troubling trend of underage drinking issues when Pat encouraged him to be proactive and do something about it.
After this conversation, Deputy McPherson decided to create a program to show teenagers the real consequences of distracted driving, alcohol and drug use.
In late 2005, Deputy McPherson brought the idea to South Dakota Highway Patrol Trooper Kelly Stern. Trooper Stern partnered with Deputy McPherson and the two of them presented the idea to the Wall Schools.
In 2006, the first alcohol and drug awareness program was held in Wall. The next year, Phillip and Kadoka Schools joined with Wall School creating the Tri-County Alcohol and Drug Awareness Program.
In 2009, the program was started at Douglas High and included New Underwood.
This year, the program will be presented in several different counties and 32 different schools districts in South Dakota, North Dakota and Wyoming with over 2,000 students in attendance and is drawing attention from several states.
The program also offers a $750 scholarship to a qualifying senior. Local organizations and individuals support the scholarship program.
The program consists of multiple learning stations for students ranging from a course simulating drunk driving to a presentation showing what happens in a rollover if you are not wearing your seatbelt.
These learning stations are taught by local law enforcement, fire and rescue personnel, and people that have been impacted by the effects of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
The cornerstone of the program is the mock crash scene and sentencing hearing that gives students a very realistic picture of what happens at an alcohol or drug-related crash and how bad choices will impact lives for years afterward.
One of the drawing points for schools and communities is the program’s unique ability to address the individual needs of each community and school into the day long program.
The Freshman Impact program may be taught by law enforcement and rescue personnel, but the program is completely focused on the students.
Another key principle of the program is the roles of the parent in helping their children make good decisions.
The Freshman Impact administration believes that positive decisions about drugs and alcohol begin at home and encourages parents to attend and become involved in the program. If this program keeps just one of our teens from making a wrong decision, it is worth all of the time and money invested.