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Local students tackle drunk-driving in Impact 2014

Ohio University’s Convocation Center was packed with more than 6,000 high school juniors and seniors from surrounding schools on Friday, April 4 as part of Impact 2014, an event organized by Troopers for a Safer Ohio, a group that works with troopers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol to educate community members on various issues.

The goal of Impact 2014 was to encourage teens to make better choices concerning their health, safety, and future by providing an educational program that speaks to the life-changing effects of drug use, underage drinking and driving.

“If the attendees left the program with something they did not bring with them - a different mindset as to how they may handle or approach a situation - mission accomplished,” said OSHP Sgt. Jeremy Mendenhall, lead coordinator of the event.

Students arrived by bus early Friday and were escorted through a food line to their seats by the women of Chi Omega, Sigma Kappa and the fraternity men of Acacia.

“This is my second year helping with Impact, and it is an honor to be able to help out at an event that can inform our younger generation about the consequences of risky choices they might make in life,” said Chi Omega member Haley Stultz.

On their way inside, young students walked passed a vehicle that had been totaled from a drunken-driving accident. “Even as a junior in college, it is still eye opening to see the visual effects of one bad decision,” Caroline Findley said.

Keynote speaker Mark Sterner provided the students with a very powerful message. “Your life is all about choices, what kind of choices are you going to make?” he asked.

Sterner was involved in a drunk-driving accident that killed three of his best friends, he explained. His friends, ages 21 to 23, were enjoying a fun time on spring break, but one bad decision to drive ended with tragedy.

He stressed that people never think something like this can happen to them. “Maybe you’re cooler, luckier or smarter than me and my friends, but then again maybe you’re not,” he said.
Impact 2014 allowed students to see a high-tech, dynamic, celebrity-filled multimedia show that focused on choices involving alcohol, drugs, poor driving habits and peer pressure.

The program was designed to be upbeat with music, prizes, and a contest and has been a huge success over the years. “In years past we have tried to keep the program as such that the attendants look forward to being there and participating. I feel that Impact 2014 did just that,” said Mendenhall.