Spring has sprung in Addison County! The newfound warmth brings thoughts of blooming flowers, migrating birds, and for high school upperclassmen, prom. An evening of long dresses, tuxes, boutonnieres, corsages, and dancing the night away surrounded by friends that have spent up to twelve years of their lives together seems like the perfect way to wrap up Junior and Senior year.
Many students look forward to the traditional prom activities, like getting ready with friends, limo rides, and after-parties. While these parties seem like standard practice, they can be incredibly dangerous. The American Automobile Association (AAA) reported that 39% of teens 16-19 reported that they would use drugs or alcohol during prom/graduation season. In 2019, 22% of Addison County teens reported that they drove a car under the influence, and 39% said that they had been a passenger while the driver was under the influence (YRBS). Fortunately, there are many things that can be done to ensure a healthy and safe prom experience for all Addison County teens.
This prom season, in collaboration with local businesses and schools, United Way is encouraging students to celebrate safely. UWAC’s annual campaign “Celebrate Safely” is an initiative that encourages teens to have a fun and safe prom experience through messaging and other activities. UWAC works with schools to design prom tickets with reminders to celebrate safely and includes free items like sweatshirts and bracelets that have the same positive messaging. This year we have enhanced the campaign to include prom raffle items such as corsages, boutonnieres, restaurant gift cards, and more to reduce the cost of prom, increase awareness of our campaign messaging, and increase overall engagement from students to improve outcomes, such as fewer students drinking and driving.
1. Talk with your friends and parents about what the plan is for the evening. Make sure you’re all on the same page as far as arrival and departure from the event itself.
2. Have a backup plan. If your ride doesn’t work out, or you feel like you’re going to be in an unsafe situation, make sure that you have a way to get home safely.
3. Keep yourself focused on the roads at all times if driving. Crash rates are significantly higher for those 16-19 than those 20 and older, so make sure that you are paying close attention to your surroundings, and focusing on driving, rather than friends that may be in the car.
4. Have fun! Prom is supposed to be a way to spend quality time with friends before graduation. Make the most of it, and don’t feel like you need to give in to the pressures of a stereotypical prom experience. This is your night to get dressed up and celebrate, so don’t let yourself become a prom-night statistic.