An important message to all
Maddison Barkley, OSAID school representative, Payton Halpenny, OSAID provincial representative, and MADD field representative Martin Savoie spoke to NDDHS students about the dangers and consequences of driving while impaired on Thurs., April 5.     Sawyer Helmer photo

Kalynn Sawyer Helmer
Record Staff
CHESTERVILLE – North Dundas District High School hosted a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) presentation on Thurs., April 8. Martin Savoie, MADD field representative, showed a short movie about driving under the influence and then three true-story accounts from Canadian victims involving drivers impaired by drugs or alcohol. This presentation also highlighted driving while high, due to the coming legalization of cannabis.

Assisting Savoie with his presentation was Payton Halpenny, Grade 12 student and provincial representative for Ontario Students Against Impaired Driving (OSAID), and Maddison Barkley, Grade 12 student and school representative for OSAID. Both girls joined in Grade 8 and remarked on the opportunities over the years to attend conferences and events.

Savoie revealed that four people are killed per day and hundreds more are injured per day in Canada alone due to impaired driving. He then explained the four responsible decisions that people can make: never drive impaired, never get in a vehicle with an impaired driver, always make a plan ahead of time and if someone is going to drive or already is driving impaired, do something about it.

Halpenny and Barkley spoke with The Record after the presentation and expressed their hopes to get a strong message across to their fellow students. “I really hope that lots of students will realize that they can make choices other than drinking and driving or driving high. If you decide to drink and drive it’s not only about you it’s about the people in the car and around you on the roads,” said Halpenny.

“With cannabis becoming legal I think it’s really important that people know not just about driving drunk but also about driving high as well. Make smart choices and know what all the options are so that you get home safe and everyone in the end is okay,” added Barkley.

For Savoie, working with student ambassadors is a vital part of the MADD message. “It means that the message comes across and the discussion continues even after the presentation,” he said. Savoie has been with MADD for four years and is clearly passionate about reaching students. “There are always more options than taking the wheel when you are impaired. This year in particular because of cannabis legalization it’s important to remind people that just because it is legal does not mean it is safe. All of the repercussions that we apply to alcohol we need to also apply to drugs.”