By Eric Bourque
The message MADD delivers about the need for sober, safe driving holds true all year long, but particular emphasis is placed on it as the Christmas season gets closer.
Locally, Project Red Ribbon – an annual initiative of Mothers Against Drunk Driving – was scheduled to begin officially Dec. 1.
“Making sure that we convey the MADD message during the holiday season is very important, considering that we statistically see more crashes involving impairment at this time of year,” said Rick Allwright, president of the Yarmouth County chapter of MADD.
People are invited to display the ribbons as a show of support for the cause and to demonstrate their commitment to sober driving.
The red ribbon campaign seems to be well received, says Allwright, noting that a week before the campaign’s scheduled official kickoff in Yarmouth, ribbons were being handed out during the local Christmas parade.
“We went through probably 2,000 ribbons in (the) parade, so people know what’s going on,” he said. “They do appreciate it. They understand the problem (of impaired driving) and they fully support us.”
According to statistics from MADD Canada, an average of four people are killed and 125 injured in this country every day because of impaired driving.
The Yarmouth County chapter of MADD has about 20 members. The group meets the first Wednesday of the month in the Sobeys Community Room.
On Dec. 5 the chapter will hold an open house, a chance for the general public to drop by and learn about what the local chapter does and what it has planned.
Allwright, who has been president of the Yarmouth County chapter for about a year-and-a-half, says being involved in MADD has been a great experience.
“It’s very rewarding to see the change that you can make,” he said. “It doesn’t take a lot of work to bring a little change. It’s just being persistent and making sure that you’re spreading that message about being safe.”
The red ribbon campaign goes until early January.
Local MADD-related activities coming up in the next few months include a comedy show at Th’YARC in March, a fundraiser for MADD.
The organization also will be holding its Strides for Change event in the spring.
The local MADD chapter organized a mock crash in the spring of this year – an event held at the high school aimed at giving students an idea what can happen as a result of impaired driving – and, while it seemed to be effective in making its point, Allwright says he isn’t sure whether it will be held again in the current school year.
“That was a very interesting thing to put on,” he said, noting that the event involved the participation of emergency responders. “We will be doing it again, (but) we may do it every other year or something, just so it’s not repetitive.”