Over the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to meet with volunteers, partners and sponsors in the Atlantic Region. It was a whirlwind tour, but I am so thankful to have the chance to visit so many communities and share in their activities. As always, I am truly moved by the heart and passion that comes from each and every person. Here’s a brief rundown of the events and activities:
- I was fortunate to join MADD Greater Fredericton Area Chapter for an ‘Afternoon of Honouring’, which included an Open House, Project Red Ribbon Launch and Candlelight Vigil.
- I was able to attend a MADD Annapolis Valley board meeting and had the privilege of presenting Kelly Skanes with her 15-year volunteer service award.
- MADD West Prince held their first-ever Project Red Ribbon Launch supported by local law enforcement, emergency services, the community and media.
- Then it was on to MADD East Prince Chapter for a Candlelight Vigil and Memorial Service. Special guests included members from provincial and local government, law enforcement and the community.
- MADD Port Hawkesbury organized a presentation at the senior high school, radio interview for awareness, a visit with the local Kia dealer and Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC).
- MADD Pictou County was the host for the 2012 Operation Christmas launch where local and provincial government, law enforcement and emergency services from across the province were in attendance.
Chapters and Community Leaders across the country have distributed millions of red ribbons over the past several weeks. I was fortunate to visit the Atlantic Provinces in early November to share in several Project Red Ribbon events. The awareness outreach ideas and energy demonstrated by the Chapters warmed my heart – not to forget the hugs. (Pictures can be seen on MADD Canada’s website and Facebook)
Every holiday season, MADD Canada hosts its Project Red Ribbon campaign. The timing of this annual awareness campaign – from the beginning of November to the first Monday after New Year’s – is especially important because parties, social gatherings and celebrations are so plentiful in the weeks leading up to and during the holiday season.
Over those weeks, our Chapters and Community Leaders across the country distribute millions of red ribbons to remind people that it is NEVER OKAY to drive impaired by alcohol and/or drugs.
Our red ribbon is also tribute to loved ones who have been killed or injured in impaired driving crashes. Knowing that our red ribbon will be ‘worn’ by Canadians in memory of victims makes my heart swell and I recall a quote from A.A. Milne – “Sometimes,’ said Pooh, ‘the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”
As summer winds down, it can be a daunting feeling as we head into Fall and the change of weather and activity.
This time of year is when local and national events begin to fill up Chapter calendars and I find it happens ‘all at once’.
At times it can become overwhelming and I compare this feeling to ‘taking the turkey out of the oven’ time. No matter how prepared you are there will always be the things you cannot do until the last minute or last-minute changes.
As with all volunteers involved with MADD Canada, the past while for me has been abuzz with awareness, education and meeting many members of the MADD Canada Family.
In May, I had the privilege of attending the Atlantic Regional Conference. I had anticipated this weekend with excitement and expectations of new relationships; being able to witness the charm of the East Coast camaraderie; joining in the sharing, caring, laughter and learning. All of my expectations were met.
The theme – ‘Soldiering On In the Fight Against Impaired Driving’ was a great motivational tool that we can all relate to. With ‘Companies’, ‘Platoons’, ‘Drill Sergeants’ and more – all who attended were immersed in learning and interaction with problem-solving exercises. Salutes and basic exercise drills were the ‘order’ of the day.
I would like to thank all who were able to attend the MADD Canada National Victims’ Weekend, April 29 – May 1, 2011.
Words cannot describe all that happened over those 42 hours. Two hundred people – hurting from the devastation caused by impaired driving, bravely came together to find hope and healing. Whether struggling with the loss of a loved one or dealing with injuries; the connecting, bonding and sharing shone through.
The MADD Canada National Candlelight Vigil is being held April 29 – May 1, 2011. Are you attending? A very simple question that stirs up a myriad of emotions.
Many have attended numerous times and for others this may be your first Candlelight Vigil. I know that it takes great courage to attend. If this is your first time attending – be assured you will find incredible support and understanding and the opportunity to meet others who share the same ‘road’ you are traveling.
We are sometimes asked how our School Multi-Media Assembly Program relates to our mission to stop impaired driving and to support victims of this violent crime.
I have to admit that our School Multi-Media Assembly Program is right up there on my MADD Passion List. Being able to go into schools and address the students en masse is an effective way to educate them about the perils of impaired driving, and to let them know how important they are to the efforts to stop this violent crime.
Recently, I had the privilege of attending the provincial launch of our 2010-2011 program, Shattered, in Saskatchewan. The program was presented to students at Balfour Collegiate in Regina. It was the first of 30 shows being sponsored by the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority and Saskatchewan Government Insurance. As I spoke to the 790 senior high students, I was reminded of how very important it is for us to reach out to young people.
It has been a whirlwind first three months in my role as National President. Busy and very rewarding!
Reaching out to Chapters and Community Leaders to introduce myself personally, talk about our policy priorities and learn about your local activities was a great way to ‘meet’ many of you. It is so inspiring to find out more about the dedication of MADD Canada’s volunteers and the marvelous ideas that Chapters and Community Leaders have for Campaigns, Awareness and fundraising in their communities. I admire each and every one of you.
I have been honoured to participate in a number of regional and national events, including the launch of Project Red Ribbon and Transport Canada’s National Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims. I have met with a number of policy makers and elected officials to talk about MADD Canada and the work we do. Most recently, I met with several Members of the Legislative Assembly in my home province of Alberta to introduce them to MADD Canada and what we do and to discuss strengthening impaired driving legislation in this province.
When can a single red ribbon save lives? When it symbolizes the commitment of one person to make safe and sober driving decisions.
It’s hard to believe but MADD Canada’s Project Red Ribbon campaign is 23 years old. It’s our longest running and most successful awareness campaign.
It used to be, you’d see them tied mainly to car and truck antennaes. With vehicle antennas becoming rare, the red ribbon continues to send a compelling message. Whether tied to an antenna, a keychain, a backpack or a coat zipper, the red ribbon is a simple, yet powerful reminder of the need to drive sober during the holiday season and all year long.
I had the pleasure of launching this year’s Project Red Ribbon campaign in Edmonton in November. A number of special guests joined us for the occasion, including: Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel, Police Chief Mike Boyd, Staff Sgt. Jamie Johnston of the RCMP, and Art Duke from Allstate Insurance Company of Canada. Special thanks to the Edmonton Chapter for hosting the launch and to the campaign’s Title Sponsor, Allstate Insurance Company of Canada.
Across the country, Chapters and Community are out there, handing out red ribbons at checkpoints, holiday parades, malls and seasonal events, and encouraging everyone to make safe and responsible decisions this holiday season. Most recently, the campaign also received a major boost in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in mid December when Irving Oil joined Project Red Ribbon. Our red ribbons are now tied to Irving Oil’s fleet of trucks in those two provinces and their drivers are helping us spread the message about safe and sober driving.