by Judy Bushy
Nadine McElyea sent an e-mail message that a number of community organizations and agencies, along with Happy Camp High School, were conducting an emergency drill Thursday morning at the high school. After the message over the loudspeaker, you could hear sirens, see fire and ambulance rigs and a helicopter arrived, just as if Mercy flights was taking someone to the hospital.. Nadine wanted everyone to know that there was no actual crash taking place and panic!
The event is called “Every 15 Minutes” and is a simulated drunk driving event. For the Fire, Ambulance and law enforcement it was a drill. For some of the students, it was acting opportunity as they played the part of a driver and passengers and what really could happen from someone driving under the influence. For the rest of the students, it is hoped that this will impress them with the dangers of driving or riding with someone who has been drinking or taking other drugs of any kind.
We had discussed the plans at the Community Solutions to Alcohol and other drugs meeting on Wednesday evening. A number of new people came to the meeting, parents and others concerned about the children and youth in our community. At the initial meeting of this group sixty people were there to express their concern. It is always encouraging that more come to be involved.
You know me; usually at any activity, especially with the students, with my camera to catch the memories. But I had to ask to be excused from this exercise. My oldest son, Michael’s birthday was just April 16th and he would have been 38. When he was 18, he died in a single car accident on his way to morning classes at Shasta College in Redding. It wasn’t a drinking or driving accident. Legally they have to check that, but that doesn’t make it hurt less or the loss easier to forget. Because I know the hurt and loss of losing a child continues, we never want to see that for any of our families along the Klamath River corridor! Especially when this type of accident is preventable!!
We don’t want our children and young people ruining their lives with illegal activities. We don’t want them to use substances that will ruin their body and brain. We want them to reach their full potential and become successes at what they want to be. What seems like a small thing as a child can be a tremendous handicap when you leave carefree childhood and want to earn a living and have a happy family. It is worse when you find out you are not only damaged by the activity but also enslaved by it. There are too many that have become slaves to substances that are not even legal for them.
Chuck Lent was at the school to council anyone who wants to talk about the simulated accident issues. The teachers and staff of the High School want very much to see each and every student become the healthy, wise, learning young adult they can be. Many people in our community, as evidenced by sixty showing up for the initial meeting and more coming all the time, care about what happens to our kids. They come and say, “How can we help our kids?” People care. They not only care about the kids, but about the families.
“What can we do to help the parents keep the kids from these behaviors?” There is help available for parents.
“What can we do to keep substances away from the kids?” That is the goal of the Community Solutions group. Family Resource Center has information on the adolescent brain and why these substances are so damaging to the young person’s life. They are having an Outdoor Club for the kids who complain that they don’t have anything to do. They will be having activities for free fishing day at Kelly Lake. They are planning to take kids geocashing. (Have you heard of this new hobby? It is like the old orienteering with compass to find a place on the map but with the technology of the GPS to find the “treasure.”) They are planning activity for the Saturday before Mother/’s Day. They will have a fun race car activity Saturday June 19 for kids and Dads, Grandpas’ or uncles, while mom gets a day off. They are also offering opportunities to garden and dig in the dirt as a family. Karen Derry told how they took some of the teens to an activity with miles of zip lines and how fun it was for them.
Deputy Josh Tygart was at the Community Solutions Meeting and he explained how a “welfare check” can be requested on a person, including a juvenile, you may have reason to feel is in danger. There have been eight or nine juvenile arrests for being under the influence recently and two adults for contributing in the last week. We do not want our community to enable the youths to continue this dangerous behavior. We want a happy, healthy successful life for each and every child here. Reminder, the curfew for children is 10 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on weekends. They can cite and take home any children and youth on the streets after that time.
This community has everything it needs to raise good kids….we want to do it. If a parent needs help, there are ways to get help. The Family Resource Center has parenting classes and topics on such subjects (such as “Lying and Truth Telling” May 21st.) If there is a topic needed, they will be happy to arrange help in areas to strengthen out families and community. Remember, you may save a life! An assembly at the high school will take place Friday. Guest speakers include Steve and Debbie Allen of Redding, DA Kirk Andrus, and many local speakers. As the teens read the farewell letters to their children, iand the parents read their letters to their children, tears flowed and boxes of kleenix were passed around.
The people from our community who spoke made very moving case for the concern and love and the desire to prevent tradgedys from happening here.