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Car accident survivor discusses prom safety with students

The Mississippi Highway Patrol (MHP) along with the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services (MDRS) presented their P.R.O.M. safety campaign at Ridgeland High School today in the Ridgeland High School auditorium. P.R.O.M. stands for “Please Return on Monday (in the same condition you left),” encouraging students to make safe and smart decisions this prom season and beyond: don’t text and drive, don’t drink and drive, and do buckle up.

MDRS Client Richard Stafford, along with his Personal Care Attendant Kerry Nelson and his mother Natalie Dedeaux, spoke to RHS’s eleventh and twelfth grade students. Stafford shared his story about how poor decision-making on his prom night led to a serious car accident and permanent disability. His message to students is to make positive choices on prom night and beyond. Ridgeland High School’s prom is scheduled for Friday, March 30.

“While Prom Night is one of the most significant nights for a high school student, it is significant for the parents as well,” said Colonel Chris Gillard, Director of the Mississippi Highway Patrol. “The parents stay up all night after the photos, after their child leaves, to see that they return home in the same condition he or she left.  Our goal is to help ensure that the child makes it back to the parent.”

This campaign is the first partnership with the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services (MDRS), and the first to be conducted for prom season in MHP history.

“We wanted to join with MHP to show teens the full circle of consequences of choices to text and drive, drink and drive and of not wearing a seatbelt because automobile accidents are a leading cause of traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries—and because many of our clients are living with disabilities caused by such accidents,” said Chris Howard, Executive Director for the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services.

“It is an honor to be partnering with the Department of Rehabilitation Services for something that means so much for these teens and their parents,” said Colonel Gillard.

State troopers and representatives from MDRS will be bringing special events to students around the state, to encourage safe habits and educate them on the dire consequences of poor choices made on prom night. Posters featuring the art work of Cartoonist and Radio Host Marshall Ramsey will also be in the schools.

“We want everyone to have fun and enjoy their memorable night, but we do not want those memories to be that of tragedy,” said Colonel Gillard.

Teens celebrating prom night can tweet prom night selfies to: @MSHwyPatrol and @MSDeptofRehab with the hashtags #SafeProm #PleaseReturnOnMonday and #prom2k18.

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