Right track opens young driv­ers’ eyes

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Jus­tine Glu­cina

Logan Kemp has been dragged through po­lice cells, ad­dressed by a judge and spo­ken to by po­lice.

He has wit­nessed the fire brigade wrench a vic­tim from a crash, seen funeral direc­tors em­balm­ing a plas­tic corpse and lis­tened to para­plegics who sur­vived ac­ci­dents.

But the 17-year-old Mt Al­bert Gram­mar School stu­dent is not a young of­fender in need of some tough re­al­i­ties.

In­stead, the peer leader and school men­tor was one of 12 youth who grad­u­ated last Tues­day from a po­lice ini­tia­tive to pre­vent teens from of­fend­ing, and to make them un­der­stand the con­se­quences of their ac­tions.

The Right Track Pro­gramme, which started in south Auck­land, utilises all emer­gency ser­vices in a se­ries of work­shops over three weeks for a holis­tic approach to youth is­sues such as boy rac­ing and drink-driv­ing.

The 98 per­cent suc­cess rate prompted tri­als to start in Ta­maki Col­lege, Auck­land Gram­mar School and Mt Al­bert Gram­mar.

East­ern area youth ser­vices co­or­di­na­tor sergeant Beth Houlis­ton says the pro­gramme is a mix of young of­fend­ers and stu­dent men­tors aged 15 to 16 who are driv­ing or have friends who drive.

“It’s tar­geted at young peo­ple so they can have a sphere of in­flu­ence and a rip­ple ef­fect of in­for­ma­tion dis­sem­i­nated down,” Miss Houlis­ton says.

On day one the teens were taken to the Auck­land Dis­trict Court where they walked the cells and back tun­nels to the court room, just as an of­fender would.

Ses­sion two gave an in­sight into the po­lice se­ri­ous crash unit, with pre­sen­ta­tions from the Brain In­jury As­so­ci­a­tion and funeral direc­tors.

Moth­ers of crash vic­tims spoke about the af­ter­math of ac­ci­dents and how it af­fected their lives.

“It’s ex­tremely emo­tional and you can hear a pin drop.

“There’s a point of re­al­i­sa­tion, some dawn that they are not ac­tu­ally in­vin­ci­ble, six foot tall and bul­let proof,” Miss Houlis­ton says.

“And the con­se­quences are se­ri­ous. They re­alise the rip­ple ef­fect – that one per­son’s poor de­ci­sion can af­fect the whole fam­ily, emer­gency ser­vices and their peers.”

The third ses­sion, based at the Mt Welling­ton fire sta­tion, showed how fire­fight­ers cut a per­son out of a wrecked car.

Teens were put out of their com­fort zone in the fourth ses­sion at Kokako Lodge in Hunua dur­ing team build­ing ex­er­cises in the out­doors.

“We’re mak­ing them un­der­stand what it’s like to take a risk,” she says.

“They would be quite happy to get in a car and let their mate drive 160kmh, but would they jump off a wa­ter­fall?”

Ses­sion five ex­plained what hap­pens when in­no­cent peo­ple are in­volved in a col­li­sion with a drunk driver at high speed.

In the fi­nal ses­sion, held at the Mid­dle­more Trauma Unit and the Otara Spinal Unit, youth are spo­ken to by those who have been in­volved in ac­ci­dents, suf­fered in­juries and been through re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

Logan says the pro­gramme was an eye­opener.

“You watch the news and get a fair idea of what hap­pens in a crash, but noth­ing like this. You need a hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence to re­ally un­der­stand the con­se­quences.

“Oth­er­wise you think it’s just an­other road toll statis­tic.”

It’s graphic, he says, but some­times that’s the only way to learn.

Logan no­ticed at the end of the course some of the young of­fend­ers were show­ing more re­spect to­wards peo­ple.

Par­ents are en­cour­aged to at­tend the classes, but all par­tic­i­pa­tion is vol­un­tary.

Logan’s fa­ther Ian says it was in­valu­able in­for­ma­tion for par­ents as well.

“The ones this age tend to be a bit gung-ho and rip, roar and bust. But it made them see things dif­fer­ently,” he says.

“They weren’t pulling many punches.

“The next stop would be hav­ing a real body there.”

He says the hard­hit­ting pre­sen­ta­tions drove the point home.

“It em­pha­sised choices.

“Mak­ing the choice to speed, mak­ing the choice to drink, to be an id­iot, and that the out­come can be out of your hands.

“I thor­oughly rec­om­mend it and only hope they crank it up and do more of it.”

Photo: FIONA GOODALL

On track: Logan Kemp says the Right Track Pro­gramme is a fan­tas­tic ini­tia­tive with some hard­hit­ting mes­sages.

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