Each year high schools throughout the state of New Hampshire find time to discuss teen driver related topics, but it has a tendency to occur solely around prom. This year the Teen Driver program deemed it necessary to focus an entire year on different topic areas of teen driving.
Be The Change was a, first ever fall teen driver focused, conference in the state and it attracted more than one hundred teens from more than ten high schools throughout New Hampshire. The importance around the event was the idea that included the opioid epidemic as well as the programs overall motto of making good choices. The speakers that spoke with the teens during the event included a victim of a crash, a victim’s family, a first responder, and a dream achiever.
The crash victim that started the event was Secret Service Agent Garrett Fitzgerald, who’s car was struck by a man driving a vehicle under the influence of Heroin, paralyzing Garrett from the chest down. Joan Fitzgerald, Garrett’s wife, spoke after him and discussed with the teens the crash’s impact on their relationship stating, “I will never get a hug from him again.” Chief Ken Fifield was the first responder on the scene of Garrett’s crash and discussed with the teens how a crash like this can affect many others especially those trying to piece together what actually happened to paralyze Garrett. NASCAR driver Melissa Fifield finished up the event by providing the teens with the idea about how making good choices can lead to following their dreams She encouraged a positive message that allowed the students to reflect on his/her own lives right now and in the future.
Teens that were in attendance took time afterward to evaluate the event. The overall conference received a 4.3 out of 5 rating, which is fantastic for it being the first ever fall teen event. The Be The Change Event was put on through a grant that was received from the Governors Highway Safety Association through the Ford Driving Skills for Life Foundation. New Hampshire was only one out of five states to receive this funding.
The New Hampshire Teen Driver Program is already looking forward to the future possibility of an annual fall event for teens to improve their overall awareness throughout the year, not only during prom season.
To learn more or find out what else is happening within the New Hampshire Teen Driver Program, please reach out to the program coordinator Chelsie Hubicsak-Muldowney at Chelsie.Hubicak-Muldowney@hitchcock.org.