Risky behaviors by teens can end with major consequences, including serious injury and death. Freshman Impact is a program that seeks to stop this before it happens. Black Hills FOX's Jon Wilson has more.
Founder & Executive Director of Freshman Impact Richard McPherson says, "We started it in 2006 at Wall with very few students. I think 60 students in one school. We're now three states, and to hold into the fourth state, and about 2800, 2900 students are scheduled this spring and into 2018."
The Freshman Impact program seeks to educate high school freshmen on the dangers of risky behaviors such as drugs, alcohol, texting and driving, and how each decision can affect the long term.
The day-long event started off with seven different learning stations, including one on driving under the influence. The googles simulate a Blood Alcohol Content of .17.
The freshmen from Custer, Edgemont, Hot Springs, and Hill City High Schools then heard from a guest speaker who lost a brother who died in an accident in which he was not wearing a seat belt.
Then it was time to watch a simulated accident caused by the use of alcohol and drugs.
Hill City High School Sophomore Nick Klima says, "We were all in a car after a party on our way to get more drugs for our party, and we T-boned another car, a mini-van."
The goal was clear, to teach the freshmen what could happen if they choose to engage in risky activities.
Hill City High School Senior Taylor Sandven says, "Actions have consequences, and the things that they do can affect so many people in ways that they never could imagine."
Klima says, "It's not just you that is impacted, it's everybody around you and your family."
McPherson says, "To make better choices, that's what this program's really about is to change some from their risk-taking behaviors so they make better choices, and are not near as risky choices."
The scene even had an effect on the actors, but likely an even greater one on the freshmen who took it all in.
Edgemont High School Freshman Jacob Mack says, "Probably seeing the skit, and how all those kids actually reacted, and see that that's real feelings, and how they're actually crying, and that that can be real, and that it can possibly happen to some of those people there."