Vail Daily column: Coalition aims to keep teens safe during season of celebration | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Coalition aims to keep teens safe during season of celebration

Mikayla Curtis
Valley Voices

During the end of the school year, there are many celebrations, dances, gatherings and opportunities for the community to celebrate the great accomplishments of local youth. Also during these times is when we need to remind youth about the importance of making safe choices. As the buildup of stress throughout the school year leads to finally releasing it, it's important that youth choose healthy ways to manage stress.

Enter the Eagle County Prevention Committee, which is a body of organizations committed to keeping youth, families and our roadways safe. Participating groups include Eagle River Youth Coalition; Vail Valley Medical Center; Eagle County Paramedic Services; Eagle County Early Head Start; Greater Eagle Fire Protection District; Gypsum Fire Department; Eagle County Sheriff's Office; Vail, Avon and Eagle police departments; and Colorado State Patrol.

These organizations come together each spring to organize safe-driving fairs at local high schools to remind youth of the dangers of impaired and distracted driving. Activities include a distracted driving simulator, the Simulated Impaired DriviNg Experience (SIDNE) go-cart, vehicle extrication equipment, alcohol- and marijuana-impairment goggles, red thumb reminder and more. One Safe Driving Fair took place Friday at Battle Mountain High School. Since it took place during the day, teens were drawn in and the message came across loud and clear: Make good choices, don't drink or text and drive and wear a seatbelt.

The Eagle River Youth Coalition works to keep a finger on the pulse of local youth through programs, surveys and conversations. Youth Leader Council members, who come from every high school in the valley and have been integral in keeping their peers and friends informed through community conversations, have these words of wisdom for their peers:

"In the next few weeks, many of us will have the opportunity to attend prom. Prom night is meant to be a fun night of dancing with your friends but sometimes can become a danger when poor decisions are made. Below are a few dos and don'ts about staying safe while driving on prom night:

• Do not drink and drive.

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• Do not get in a car with someone who could be under the influence.

• Do not snap your prom dress or adjust your tie and drive.

• Do always wear your seatbelt.

• Do plan safe transportation to and from prom.

• Do call a parent or another trusted adult if you are in a situation that is unsafe.

• Do make smart choices regarding after-dance events.

Remember to be smart and have fun.

More than ever, youth have a loud voice in our community. They are making better decisions and helping their peers to do so, too. During this last month of school, support these efforts and encourage all community members, youth and adults alike, to keep our roadways safe.

Mikayla Curtis is the manager of strategic impact for the Eagle River Youth Coalition. To learn more about Eagle River Youth Coalition and the Eagle County Prevention Committee, visit http://www.eagleyouth.org.