The Herald
February 23, 2017

Feb. 23, 2017 – Hundreds of River East Collegiate students viewed the debut of MADD Canada’s “In the Blink of an Eye” assembly video this morning. They also heard Patricia Haynes-Coates, MADD Canada National President, tell the moving story of losing her son Nicholas to a drunk driver. (SHELDON BIRNIE/CANSTAR/THE HERALD)

Poor choices can have lifelong impacts, and it can all happen before you know it.

That’s the message hundreds of River East Collegiate students received, loud and clear, when they were among the first in the country to view a new educational film from MADD Canada.

MADD Canada debuted In the Blink of an Eye at River East on Feb. 23. The first part of the  film tells the story of a group of friends who face some hard choices and deal with some even harder consequences around impaired driving. It closes with heartbreaking testimonials from three families whose lives have been forever altered by impaired driving.

“It’s important for us to let the youth know they are not immune,” said Patricia Hynes-Coates, president of MADD Canada, who shared with students the story of her stepson Nicholas, who was killed by a drunk driver two years ago.

According to MADD, road crashes are the single largest cause of death for those between the ages of 16 and 25.

“Fifty per cent of those include or involved alcohol and drugs,” Hynes-Coates added.
Ron Schuler, Minister of Crown Services and MLA for St. Paul, addressed the assembly.

“It’s very important for us to take this message to students,” Schuler, who had a daughter in the crowd at River East, said. “Independent of political party, all the members of the legislative assembly are concerned with road safety.”

In 2016, Schuler said, 112 people died on the road in Manitoba. Of those 112 deaths, 55 per cent involved alcohol or drugs.

In the Blink of an Eye presents these hard truths in a manner that is dramatic and impactful, with the aim of influencing positive decision making among young drivers.

“(This film) makes them realize, this could be them,” she added. “They can see themselves in these scenarios.”

Students watched the film with sombre expressions on their faces. Many were moved to tears by the testimonials.

“It’s super important to hear from people who are affected by impaired driving,” Holly Simpson, a Grade 11 student at River East, said after viewing the film. “We talk about it a lot, but its different to hear from someone who is actually affected by it.”

“A lot of us are just starting to drive, or have been driving for a short amount of time, so we have less experience,” Dawson Kletke, another Grade 11 student, added. “We have to consider these situations.”

As a result of Manitoba Public Insurance sponsorship, 109 schools across Manitoba will be view In the Blink of an Eye this year. In total, the film will be screened at approximately 2,000 junior high and high schools across Canada by June 2017.

Visit www.madd.ca for more information, and to view a clip of In the Blink of an Eye.