Kapolei Teens Learn About Safe Driving

Wednesday - December 05, 2007
By Kerry Miller
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Firefighters and EMTs
Firefighters and EMTs attend to Kapolei High senior Alyssa Jass in a staged car accident intended to encourage students to make wise choices during the holiday season. Photo by Byron Lee, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

In the United States, every 15 minutes a teenager is seriously injured or killed in an alcohol-related collision. Kapolei High School’s Peer Education Program students simulated the outcome of such an accident Nov. 19 and 21 on Kapolei Parkway near the school’s entrance.

As part of its “Shattered Dreams Kapolei ‘Be Smart, Don’t Start’” project, the Peer Education Program presented a mock car crash and funeral.

The program began Nov. 19 with a police officer reading a crash scenario over the school’s PA system during the usual morning announcements. Afterwards, the officer and a person dressed like the Grim Reaper took pre-selected students (from the program) symbolizing that they had been killed in a car crash.

“It’s a little bit different than the national program,“explained Stacy Kawamura, program coordinator for the KHS Peer Education Program. “On the mainland, I believe what they do is every 15 minutes throughout the day they take kids out of class. Then they paint their face white and they show up as a kind of ghost for the rest of the day.

“What we did,” said Kawamura prior to the event, “was the students are going to change and go back in class as ghosts, they’re not allowed to talk or interact with people (they’re not painting their faces white).We’re hopeful their classmates recognize them as not actually being there.”

The program continued Nov. 21 with a vivid crash scene. The scenario was that a drunk driver was speeding, ran a red light and hit another vehicle. Students gathered to watch the aftermath of the “crash,“complete with emergency service personnel (police, fire, ambulance) responding to the scene. Student actors were in the roles of the drunk driver, who was scripted to flee the scene, and the other driver who “died"as a result of the crash. Following this, Kawamura said, students went to the gym for a mock funeral.

To conclude the program, teachers held classroom discussions using a debriefing packet they received as a guide for talking about the situation with students. Counselors were also on hand in the library in case students required one-on-one attention.

“This has been done on Kauai and on the Big Island,” said Kawamura.“This is the second time on Oahu. Kaimuki (high school) did one in May. Roosevelt should be doing one in the spring. I think the program was very successful (at Kaimuki).

“One of the things we had talked about at Kaimuki is it’s been a long time since they’ve lost a student (to a car crash), whereas here in Kapolei, pretty much every year there is somebody. It’s horrible, that’s why it’s kind of important for us to do it here. We feel like it will be very successful here because I think the students here are very aware of the possibilities.”

The Peer Education Program is in its second year at KHS and so far the mock crash was its most ambitious endeavor.

“It’s a completely student-driven project,” said Kawamura. “I’m very proud of these kids; they’ve worked really hard. I hope it has the kind of impact that they’re looking for.”

In a nutshell, the program is “peers helping peers.“The students are peer educators and are in the program because they have the potential to be leaders and role models.

“The students learn about issues that affect teens in a big way - abortion, sexual assault, personal development, making choices, drugs - they study up on those,” explained Kawamura. “We give them techniques (for how) to share information with classmates.”

The Peer Education Program is run by the state, with a total of 20 middle and high schools currently participating.


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