By Emi Clancy:
As the end of the year draws near, many school students have planned trips and parties across Australia to celebrate completing their higher school certificates. Many students will make their way to the well-known party district in the Gold Coast, while other students will be celebrating nationwide.
Known as almost a rite of passage, schoolies trips carry the risk of students abusing sex, drugs and alcohol during their celebrations, with fatalities occurring in past years. Despite many campaigns such as Be safe, watch your mates and Red Frogs Australia promoting responsible behaviour and helpline numbers, a lot of teenagers will take risks this year.
21-year-old Sydney student, Kaitlyn Brown, has been travelling across New South Wales with the Paraplegic Benefit Fund to promote responsible drinking and roadside safety by sharing her own personal story with high school teenagers.
A night of clubbing turned tragic for Ms Brown when her driver was distracted and veered off the road, crashing into a pole and leaving the then 19-year-old legally quadriplegic. “One second behind the wheel of not paying enough attention can cause an injury that lasts a lifetime. But not just that, it’s not just the risk of becoming disabled because you can actually get brain damage. And it’s not just you that you can affect; you could be on the road and do this to someone else,” Ms Brown said.
As schoolies approaches and many HSC students become of legal drinking age, Ms Brown hopes to reinforce to young high school students that even though they may take precautions and ensure there is a designated driver who has not been influenced by alcohol or drugs, any distraction at all by other passengers who are heavily intoxicated can carry risks.
“I want to share my story with other people. I’ve been through so much and I just want to be able to encourage other people even if it’s only the smallest thing I say, they can take away whatever they want from it as long as they take away something. If sharing my story reinforces to other people to drive more safely or they go home and it stays on their mind, anything at all, I’ll be happy,” the 21-year-old shared.
For more information on safety at schoolies, details that include emergency and safety numbers can be found at schoolies.com/safety