ALABASTER, Ala. (WIAT) — Schools across the nation, and here locally, are participating in Red Ribbon Week this week. It’s an educational effort to get students involved in drug prevention activities.
The Arrive Alive tour is in action at Thompson High School teaching students the importance of refraining from alcohol and drug use.
Community and school leaders said they are always looking for creative ways to educate and leave a lasting impression on their youth. The Arrive Alive Tour provides a hands-on way to do that.
Arrive Alive immerses these youth into a simulation showing them what it’s like to drive impaired through alcohol, drugs, or texting. This also reveals real life consequences in a controlled environment.
School leaders said some of their students felt confident strapping in, but when they exit the car, they leave with a newfound realization of the weight of their decisions.
Brendan Darrow, the team lead with Arrive Alive, said they offer this experience to students because they don’t want them to partake in something that could ruin their lives.
“If you got behind the wheel with any other drug, it’s going to affect how you’re driving, and then, you know, you can obviously get the legal ramifications for it. Then there’s the other ramifications of you potentially injuring yourself or somebody else, and that’s the stuff that we’re trying to, you know, stop from happening, trying to lower the numbers.”
Alabaster school and community leaders said that speaking to students about important topics is one thing, but experience brings understanding to a whole new level.
“Being able to ride in a car, you know, see the videos of what your friend is seeing, it’s almost game like and I feel like that living the experience makes more of an impact that just reading,” said Alabaster City Schools Mental Health Coordinator Sherrita Drake.
“What we hope is that they see the consequence of ‘I ran over someone,’ or ‘I ran a red light,’ or ‘I could go to jail,’ or ‘It’s going to cost me money.’ That they really think about the consequences of their actions and the things that they do before they get behind the wheel,” said Alabaster’s ‘For Tomorrow’ Program Director Brandon Matthews.
These mentors for community youth said they hope these students walk away from this with a life free from alcohol and drugs understanding life can be wonderful and fun without them.
Several students said they are thankful for this experience early on in life.
“Because then I know, I’m not going to have any problems later in life and I know I can have fun without having that stuff in my life,” said Frida Escareno.
“It’s very hard to understand what the consequences are afterwards, and you don’t really know what you’re doing to begin with,” added Christopher Sprayberry. “It’s always better to have someone drive you home or call an Uber or something.”