DERRY | A group of local youths is planning a mock car crash for next spring to remind fellow teenagers of the importance of safety during prom season.

The youth advisory board of the Community Alliance for Teen Safety, or CATS, met with the organization's executive director, Sue Centner, earlier this week to start organizing the mock accident.

Pinkerton Academy seniors Ivan Bochkov and Marissa Tremblay, who co-chair the mock crash committee, said the event will send a clear message to students about the dangers of drinking and driving.

"We want to make it appear as realistic as possible," Tremblay said of the crash, which would be witnessed by the junior class.

The incident would also involve community members such as Fire Department personnel, police and other students, who would take on the roles of those involved in the simulated crash, making the scene as real as possible.

And timing the event around prom time makes it even more significant, according to Bochkov.

"We've invited members of the community who we thought would like to have an integral role," he said.

Centner said community input is very important when CATS activities and programs are concerned. "People have ideas and input they may want to lend to the project," she said.

That's why the youth advisory board will host a preliminary planning session, Monday at 6:30 p.m., at the Marion Gerrish Community Center on West Broadway in Derry for anyone who would like to learn more and get involved.

Centner said she is proud of the youth advisory board and receiving input from young people is instrumental in the direction CATS continues to follow as it focuses on teen safety. New teens are always welcome to get involved, she added.

The nonprofit organization, which began in 1996 after a string of teenage fatalities on area roadways within only a few months, works to help increase awareness among teens and their parents about high-risk, dangerous behavior, such as drug and alcohol abuse, drinking and driving, and bullying.

The youth group, made up of 11 teens, formed in 2004 when four Pinkerton students signed up to help CATS during a school volunteer fair. The group meets regularly to bring programs and activities to both their peers and the community.

The youths are also involved in community round-table discussions throughout the year, and work with elementary school students as part of the annual anti-drug celebration, Red Ribbon Week.

The group also helps to plan CATS activities in the community, such as an annual walk-a-thon and candlelight vigil.

Centner said all students who want to make a difference in the lives of others are welcome to find out more about the youth advisory board.

"By virtue of the fact that they are here, and good role models, I think they have more of an impact than they realize," Centner said. "They are speaking up to support their peers, they have a voice."



Why a mock crash?

Learn more by attending a planning session

When: Nov. 26, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Where: Marion Gerrish Community Center, 39 West Broadway, Derry

What: An overview of the project and how community members are invited to get involved.

For info: Visit online at www.catsevents.org.

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