The underlying principle of the PARTY program is to help teenagers guard themselves from unnecessary injury. That’s right in the name: Prevent Alcohol and Risk-related Trauma in Youth.
Every year about 700 students from the area’s junior high schools attend the daylong session to emphasize the importance of thinking ahead. One of the lessons is to think about your head.
Now in its 18th year, the Sturgeon Community Hospital initiative runs with multilateral support from public health officials and representatives from St. Albert’s police and fire teams. PARTY also is in need of volunteers to ensure it celebrates its 19th birthday.
Bev Kirchenberger is co-ordinator of volunteer services at the facility. She said that it’s a massive undertaking just to conduct each six-hour session, let alone have one every two weeks during the school year. But the effort is worth it for the final outcome, she said.
The lessons, which include graphic slideshows and demonstrations on realistic-looking injured dummies, make a strong impact.
“One student wrote, ‘You have to make smart choices because the consequences can be huge.’ Another said, ‘I learned that choices can end up changing my life,’” said Kirchenberger.
The lessons reinforce some basic safe behaviours and practices like wearing seatbelts and helmets, staying sober, looking before you leap and being trained in first aid if the need arises.
For the class, student Tyler Robinson volunteered to participate in a fake accident. Robinson said that lying down on the rigid backboard for even a few minutes was horribly uncomfortable.
The emergency responder running the demonstration replied that sometimes people have to stay on them for several hours, even if they have to go to the bathroom. Everyone present agreed that it was an experience to be avoided.
The next session is for Legal students on June 10, but Kirchenberger hopes to line people up to commit to the 2009-10 sessions as well.
For more information or to sign up as a volunteer for this or the hospital’s other programs, call 780-418-7375 or email [email protected]