Regina, Saskatchewan – With support from provincial sponsors, Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) and Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA), MADD Canada is visiting schools around the province to talk to students about the dangers of impaired driving and how they can prevent it.

Road crashes are the number one cause of death among teens and young adults, and alcohol and/or drugs are involved in more than half of those crashes. MADD Canada produces a new School Assembly Program every year to educate students in Grades 7 – 12 about the dangers of impaired driving.

A special screening of the 2017-2018 program, titled The Pact, is taking place at Ethel Milliken Elementary School in Regina today. SGI and SLGA are long-time supporters of MADD Canada’s School Assembly Program, directly sponsoring 20 and 40 presentations respectively at schools around the province this year.

“Our goal is to show students how easily a tragedy can happen when someone drives impaired, and talk about what they can do to protect themselves and their friends,” said MADD Canada National President Patricia Hynes-Coates. “We want to get them thinking and talking about the dangers and consequences of impaired driving and how they can prevent it.”

MADD Canada was honoured to welcome two very special guests to today’s event – The Honourable Joe Hargrave, Minister responsible for SGI, and The Honourable Gene Makowsky, Minister responsible for SLGA.

“To beat the impaired driving problem in Saskatchewan, it will take people making decisions for themselves that impaired driving is no longer acceptable,” said Minister Hargrave. “Young people, like the ones who will see this presentation from MADD Canada, can help lead that change.”

The Pact tells the story of Zoe, who is at a new school and struggling to fit in. After landing in detention for skipping class, she meets James, Charli, Nisha and Will. When they invite her to a party, Zoe is happy that she is finally making friends. At the party, Nisha has too much to drink. Charli is sober and can drive her home, but is worried about leaving Zoe behind. James offers to drive Zoe. Even though James has been smoking pot, Zoe convinces herself and her friends that all will be fine because he wasn’t drinking. When the car crashes, the whole group of friends is changed forever. Devastated by the tragedy but hoping to build something positive, the friends form a special pact.

In addition to the fictional storyline in The Pact, the presentation also features emotional real-life accounts of victims of impaired driving. In fact, it is the victim testimonials that have the most lasting impact on students.

This year’s program tells the stories of:

· Carol Grimmond – Carol and her twin brother, Colin, were travelling to their mother’s home when an impaired driver, going the wrong way on the highway, struck them head-on. Colin suffered minor injuries. Carol was seriously injured and airlifted to hospital where she died.

· Craig Watson – After a day at the lake, Craig and three high school friends piled into a van for the 5-minute drive to one of the friend’s cottages. All had been drinking and no one was wearing seat belts. The driver lost control of the vehicle. Craig was ejected from the passenger window and the van rolled over him, killing him.

· Maia Vezina – Maia and her mother Pat were hit head-on by an impaired driver. Pat suffered broken bones and internal injuries, was on life support for a time and required numerous surgeries. Maia broke both femurs, both ankles and both arms, her left knee, pelvis, right wrist, left clavicle, a rib and left cheekbone. Both women have had very long recoveries and still suffer the effects of their injuries.

For more information, or to view a clip from The Pact, please visit https://madd.ca/pages/programs/youth-services/school-programs/the-pact/ .

Evidence shows that MADD Canada’s strategies to reach young people are working. In a 2015-2016 survey of students who saw that year’s School Assembly Program, titled 24 Hours: 80% of respondents said the program was effective in delivering its message about not driving while impaired; two-thirds of respondents said the presentation will be effective in changing behaviours regarding impaired driving; and 97% of respondents supported seeing a similar presentation the following year.

About Saskatchewan Government Insurance

Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) is the province’s self-sustaining auto insurance fund. SGI operates 21 claims centres and five salvage centres across Saskatchewan with a head office in Regina. SGI is the traffic safety advocate for the province and the administrator of the Traffic Safety Act. Visit: www.sgi.sk.ca.

About the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority

The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) is responsible for the distribution, control and regulation of liquor and most gaming across the province. Visit: www.slga.com.

About MADD Canada

MADD Canada (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) is a national, charitable organization that is committed to stopping impaired driving and supporting the victims of this violent crime. With volunteer-driven groups in more than 100 communities across Canada, MADD Canada aims to offer support services to victims/survivors, heighten awareness of the dangers of impaired driving and save lives and prevent injuries on our roads. For more information, visit www.madd.ca.

For more information, please contact:

Patricia Hynes-Coates, National President, MADD Canada: 647-919-6233 or phynescoates@madd.ca
Tyler McMurchy, SGI Manager of Media Relations: 306-751-1837 or tmcmurchy@sgi.sk.ca
David Morris, SLGA Manager of Communications: 306-787-1721 or dmorris@slga.gov.sk.ca