Happy (almost) May 2-4! It’s the unofficial start of summer, as thousands flock to cottages, campgrounds and backyard barbeques. Can’t you just smell those burgers grilling?! And as the parties kick into high gear, the one happening at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre could be the most unforgettable of the season.
Welcome to P.A.R.T.Y, or Prevent Alcohol and Risk-related Trauma in Youth program. It’s not about having fun, but it does help save lives. Twice a week, a group of high school students tours Sunnybrook’s Critical Care, as well as Trauma Centre (the largest in Canada). They view graphic video of actual crash scenes, and speak to survivors. They also hear from the coroner, paramedics, police, nurses and doctors about the real consequences bad choices have. Call it the medical version of scared straight.
After spending the day with one class, the impact was clear. Some kids had to leave the room. Others fainted. Crying was another common reaction. While you might think that’s harsh, organizers say this program is graphic with a purpose: infusing a bit of reality into the lives of often risk-taking youth, at a time when many feel invincible.
After starting the program almost 25 years ago, Sunnybrook is known as P.A.R.T.Y headquarters. The program has evolved to include more than 100 programs around the world, including over 75 programs here in Canada. And a new ten-year study tracking kids who have taken it shows a marked decrease in injuries and driving offenses. So it is making a difference.
As you enjoy your May long weekend, remember that the majority of injuries are both predictable and preventable, at any age. So make it a memorable holiday, not a deadly one.