Kids at Treehouse Child Development Centre in White Rock have a thing or two to say to those who plan to tipple this holiday season – mainly, don’t get behind the wheel afterwards.
And as of Friday, their messages are going to be hard for anyone shopping at the city’s three private liquor stores to miss.
That’s because 3,000 brown-sleeve bags bearing stickers with colourful images of things important to the kids – family members and activities they like to participate in among them – along with ‘Think of Me’ statements, are to be distributed to customers starting Nov. 29.
It’s hoped the campaign gives those who are buying alcohol pause, and encourages them to think about potential consequences of not being responsible with it.
The kids were recruited to share the messages by Const. Chantal Sears, who spearheaded the ‘Think of Me’ initiative in collaboration with Families for Justice founder Markita Kaulius, the City of White Rock, the liquor stores, ICBC, Semiahmoo Community Safety Society and Treehouse, with cost of the stickers shared by the safety society, ICBC and the city.
It launches one week ahead of the detachment’s Dec. 6 Christmas Counter Attack kick-off.
Tuesday, seven of the kids whose designs are among 23 that were made into stickers helped affix a handful of the messages onto a stack of the brown bags.
Adriana Delgatty’s sticker bears the words ‘Please don’t Drink and Drive,’ above a picture she drew of her family and a Christmas tree. She said she picked the image because her mom likes to take family photos and, “because I like opening presents.”
Alexandra Cox’s sticker reads ‘Think of Me Don’t Drink and Drive’ above an image of snowmen, because she and her family like to build snowmen in Bakerview Park.
Treehouse manager Lisa Belanger said prior to creating their designs, she and the children talked about “appealing to people’s hearts” and how to get across to those who choose to drink and drive that “they were affecting innocent people.”
Delgatty put it in simple terms: “Innocent people get hurt by people who choose a wrong decision,” she said.
According to ICBC, there are an average of 1,400 impaired-driving-related crashes in the Lower Mainland every year. The incidents kill around 17 people and injure another 860.
Belanger told Peace Arch News she is familiar with “the terrible things that can happen around drinking and driving.” When she was a teenager, her parents spoke of two incidents impacting their friends, she explained. In one, a young man lost his leg; in the second, the adult son of another couple was killed when he was struck by an impaired driver while crossing a Langley road.
Sears – whose son, Grayson, was among children to create this year’s sticker designs – said she is optimistic the children’s sticker messages will sink in.
“I sure hope so,” she said.
At the same time, she said after 15 years of doing Counter Attack, “I’m still surprised at the amount of impaired drivers we have.”
The bags initiative is not the first time that Peninsula children have been asked to help raise awareness through ‘Think of Me’ campaigns.
Past efforts include getting White Rock and Peace Arch Elementary students to decorate 300 brown-sleeve liquor bags for distribution in 2012. Their messages included “Rudolph will know you did it” and “We are not cats, we only live once.”
As well, at the start of this school year, Surrey RCMP launched a ‘Think of Me’ campaign at Crescent Park Elementary, to remind motorists to take extra care in school zones. In that effort, volunteers stopped every vehicle in front of the school to hand motorists cards designed by students that included tips for both pedestrians and drivers.
Tuesday, Belanger said it’s important for children to know they have the power to effect change, at any age.
“Never think that it’s too young to start talking about things like this,” she said.