Friday, May 17, 2013

“Prom Night”

The month of May is always an exciting but fearful time for parents with teenaged children.  It is also the month of Prom for many schools.  Teachers fret the details of the weeks leading up to graduation.  Kids eagerly anticipate their junior or senior prom.  And parents do what they do best.  They worry.

Parents have good reason to worry.  Teenagers are not known for their good judgment.  Poor impulse control, peer pressure, and a few drinks can lead to nightmare scenarios and the worst decisions possible.  Adults know this and do their best to advise their kids.  Kids tune them out.  It’s the way of the world, and it’s dangerous.

My business time of year is in May when high schools are planning their junior and senior proms.  This is a time for kids to learn new social skills, to test themselves, and all too often to let down inhibitions they are normally in touch with.  The worst thing of all is that it’s often a time when kids drink and drive.  And there’s no worse combination.

During April and May, schools reach out and ask me to speak with their junior and senior classes in the hope that I will be a vivid and visual example of what can happen if you let your guard down for even a moment.  One momentary lapse in judgment, one misstep, and your life can turn on a dime.  Worse yet, you can maim or even kill an innocent third party all in the name of a foolish impulse.  Is it really worth it?  Of course not, but I don’t preach because it doesn’t work.  I inspire and motivate. I joke around with the kids, I tell stories about rehab, I show pictures of my car twisted and bent in half with me inside it, and I let them draw their own conclusions.  I’ve learned that telling kids what to do and what not to do is the wrong way to go.  After all, they know so much more than we do.   Hmmm.  The real answer is to tell stories and parables, show some pictures, and let doing the right thing be their idea.  If it’s their idea, kids become invested in it.  If you insist on making it your idea, then it’s just something to be challenged or ignored.

Kids are great, and I love working with them.   They need to learn the skills to make good decisions, and that’s what my appearances are all about.  All in all, one junior and one senior at a time, I think the message gets through.  One thing I know for sure is that if there’s one benefit to living life in a wheelchair because of a drunk driver, it’s I can help others avoid the same fate.  That’s a pretty good benefit.

Dwight Owens

To for more information on my missions or to purchase a copy of "Still Standing," visit www. 

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