Oakville, Ontario — MADD Canada debuts its latest School Assembly Program for Ontario students this week, launching a province-wide tour to engage youth in a conversation about the dangers of impaired driving and the ways they can prevent it.

The 2019-2020 School Assembly Program, titled Over the Edge, is being delivered to Ontario students in Grades 7 – 12 to highlight the dangers of driving after drinking alcohol or doing drugs. With the support of National Sponsors, Allstate Insurance Company of Canada and Westcan Bulk Transport, and Provincial Sponsor LCBO, MADD Canada will deliver about 1,400 presentations at Ontario schools between now and June, reaching hundreds of thousands of students.

Road crashes are the number one cause of death among Canadian youth, and alcohol and/or drugs are involved in more than half of those crashes. Every year, MADD Canada produces a new School Assembly Program to educate students about the risks and consequences of impaired driving.

“Our School Assembly Program shows students how mixing alcohol and/or drugs with driving can lead to a devastating crash that will change them, their families and their friends, forever,” said Dawn Regan, MADD Canada’s Chief Operating Officer. “It helps them gain the information, motivation and confidence to never drive impaired or ride with an impaired driver.”

MADD Canada is highlighting its new program with a special screening at St. Mary Catholic Elementary School in Nobleton today.

“Allstate is proud to once again support this important program to educate young people about the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and to engage them in a dialogue about how they can make smart choices and protect themselves,” said Allstate Insurance Company of Canada President and CEO Ryan Michel.

Over The Edge shows the story of 17-year-old Sam, who moves back to her hometown to live with her Dad while her Mom travels for work. At a party to celebrate Sam’s homecoming, she reunites with her two best friends, Kat and Adam, and meets Kat’s friend, Steve. The group catches up while drinking and smoking cannabis. Things quickly get out of hand when Kat divulges a secret, and Sam and Adam leave. Knowing she shouldn’t drive, Sam calls her Dad to pick them up. The next morning, Sam and her Dad decide to go fishing. On the way, Sam gets a text from Kat saying that Steve is driving impaired. Sam and her Dad agree to pick Kat up at a nearby gas station, and Sam calls the police to report Steve’s impaired driving. Suddenly, a crash happens, changing all of their lives forever.

After that fictional story concludes, viewers see interviews with real-life victims of impaired driving who talk about their loved ones who were killed or injured in crashes. This year’s program tells the stories of:

Cassius Richards

Cassius was killed when an impaired driver, with over twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system, sped through a red light and hit his car. The impaired driver was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison. For Cassius’ family, there is a void left in their hearts that can never be filled.

Doug Stewart & Emily Stewart

A day before Father’s Day, Doug and his daughter Emily were on their way home when a cannabis-impaired driver collided with their car head-on after swerving into the middle of the road of a two-lane highway. Doug was killed in the crash. Emily suffered broken bones and a critical brain injury, and was not expected to live. With courage and perseverance, she survived and has made inspiring progress, but she will never fully recover from her injury.

Stanley Thomson

One evening, four carloads of teenagers stopped at a restaurant on their way home from a high school graduation party. After getting a bite to eat, the friends got back into their cars, with one of the drivers high on cannabis, and they headed home. The driver who was high began to play a daring game of leapfrog with his vehicle. Suddenly, one vehicle pulled out directly in front of an oncoming tractor trailer and triggered a devastating chain reaction of collisions. Five of the young men, including Stanley, died in the crash and eleven were seriously or permanently injured.

Surveys show MADD Canada’s education efforts are resonating with young people. In a 2017-2018 survey about that year’s School Assembly Program (The Pact): 66% of students said the program effectively delivered the sober driving message; 74% said the program motivated them to make the right decision when it comes to preventing impaired driving; 73% said they had or planned to have conversations with family and friends about impaired driving; and 97% supported having a similar presentation at their school the following year.

To see a clip of the new program, visit the School Programs page on the MADD Canada web site at: https://madd.ca/pages/programs/youth-services/school-programs/

For more information, please contact:

Dawn Regan, MADD Canada Chief Operating Officer, 905-330-7565 or dregan@madd.ca

Deb Kelly, Communications Manager, MADD Canada, 1-800-665-6233, ext 240 or dkelly@madd.ca
Karen Benner, Manager of Public Relations, Allstate Insurance Company of Canada, 905-415-4151 or kbenner@allstate.ca.