By SRO Kjell Michelsen

The summer in our neck of the woods is well on its way, when this is in print, we are just days away from July. Many take some time off from a hectic schedule, to create even more hectic days packing for a vacation to the beach, or visiting family and friends.

This week we were able to send two of our Unicoi County High School SADD club members and a chaperone on a little “vacation trip” of their own, representing our club and our high school to Scottsdale, Arizona, for the 2019 SADD National Leadership Conference.

First, a little background. In late February our club entered into a national contest hosted by the National Road Safety Foundation and SADD. Our task was to make a short video about the dangers for teen drivers (and other drivers) when driving distracted. We only had a few days to come up with a plan, get some props for the video, and with the excellent help from our high school’s very own videographer, Dustin Street, who shot and edited it, we ended up winning the whole national contest knocking out submissions from more than a 120 other high schools in the U.S.!

The biggest challenge for us was the fact that we had to keep this under wrap until this week when the winner was announced at the national conference in Scottsdale. Part of the winning price is $2,500 for our club and a fully sponsored trip for three to Arizona. Just a couple of weeks before school was out, a 15-time Emmy award-winning production team from New York, Alan Weiss Productions, arrived here in Erwin and with the same SADD club members who appeared in the first video was cast in this new PSA video (Public Service Announcement) which this week had its premiere in Scottsdale. It will later air in over 200 TV stations all over the U.S. as part of the Teen Kids News Network.

Needless to say, I am so proud of our SADD club members who took a good idea and made it great. Great enough to win not only this national contest but also their willingness to be a part of an organization like SADD. Our mission of the club is to promote a broad understanding of the risks facing teens and the importance of reinforcing protective factors, and by sharing their voices and their own perspectives on issues and laws and policies that involve the education, culture, health, safety, and treatment of teens.

Until next time, be safe, have fun and enjoy summer.