DOBSON — One result of education’s contemporary shifting to hands-on learning tied to real world problems is students are being routinely introduced to problems they would have been sheltered from in previous decades. Hence, an upcoming Vehicle Injury Prevention for a Very Important Person (VIP for a VIP) program at Surry Central.
“I think parents will be receptive to this now where in previous years they may not have been so open,” said Central Principal Celia Hodges. “More people are driving than ever and the fact is teenagers need to know and understand how distracting a cell phone can be and the consequences of that.”
The VIP for a VIP program is slated for Sept. 25 at Surry Central High School. Hodges and Assistant Principals Colby Beamer and Cheryl Hicks said the Greensboro group is composed of volunteers and the presentation is free of charge. Hodges credited Health and Science Teacher Dean Cave, who worked a year to get to group to come to the area. Organizers hope to get the group to hold similar events at other local schools on a rotating basis.
According to information supplied by the group, the mission of VIP for a VIP is “to bring the sight, sounds and smell of a fatal vehicle accident to high school students in a dramatic way in hopes of embedding the consequences of these often senseless events into the minds of these teenage drivers.” Because of limited seating, the event will be offered to students in grades 10 through 12. The effort is credited with reaching around 123,414 teenagers in the 196 sessions delivered.
The program began in 1998 when off-duty firefighters Steve Zimmerman and Larry Cockman came upon a vehicle accident which had just occurred involving two youths who had decided to skip school that day. The driver had lost control of the vehicle and struck a bridge column, ejecting her from the vehicle. She was killed when the vehicle came to rest on top of her. In the following days, Zimmerman and Cockman struggled with the loss and decided to develop a program to educate teens.
Hodges said that although the program has changed much since then, Zimmerman and David Hood insist on presenters strictly following the scripted event. The event has a morning program where a parent affected by an automobile fatality speaks with students and an evening program staged in the school parking lot.
Beamer said much of the program’s impact is due to the action taking place a little more than 30 feet from students. Hodges praised the efforts of the Surry County Sheriff’s Department, local fire departments, local emergency medical personnel and students interested in professions in nursing and as emergency medical technicians, who became involved with the early planning meetings for VIP for a VIP.
The three agreed the amount of local support has been heartening as volunteers make sure all the roles in the upcoming drama have been met. Tentative plans suggest Surry Central Junior Officer’s Training Corps may even be called to serve as an honor guard for a coffin.
David Broyles may be reached at 336-415-4739 or on Twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.