“Your son was hit by a drunk driver.” Those were the words we heard when we answered the door that cold winter evening. We were stunned, and immediately raced up the hill to the site of the accident. Michael was 14 years old and was on his bike coming home from his paper route.
The car had slammed into him from behind, sending him flying several yards where he landed in a yard, barely missing a cement embankment. The ambulance was there and he was on a stretcher inside. Miraculously, no bones were broken, but he was badly injured throughout his body. It took several weeks for recovery.
He was one of the lucky ones. He lived. However, he has suffered back problems and loss of his childhood memories as a result of the accident. Thousands of others do not make it. This is why Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was organized and has been actively engaged in the fight again drunk driving for several years.
Jaynie Brown, legislative lobbyist for the Utah Chapter of MADD, became involved in the organization when her own baby grandson was killed by a drunk driver. She joined the ranks of so many others who wanted to do something to help stop these terrible tragedies from happening. As a result they have worked tirelessly creating the “Strengthening Families Program”.
Family research shows that if families are strong and loving, if parents have the skills to know how to help their children make wise decisions, drunk driving in the next generation can be greatly reduced and even eliminated. This excellent program is now on DVD for use in every home. On the cover it identifies it’s content: “Proven skills to promote happy families, healthy brains, and alcohol and drug-free kids.”
Many parents don’t even know their kids are drinking and are surprised and stunned when they end up in a drunk-driving accident. “That can’t be my child,” they think. He goes to church with us, he’s a good student. How can this be?” This scenario is all too familiar, so the Utah Chapter of MADD took the bull by the horns and began to work on a program that could actually make a difference.
We first learned about it when Jaynie Brown, executive producer and writer of the DVD, called us and Janice Kapp Perry, asking for permission to use our song “Save the Family” as their theme song for the DVD. Many were donating time and means to the project, and we were pleased to have them freely use our song for this non-profit project. [Free copy of the song at https://www.garyjoylundberg.com/store/save-the-family/]
In seeking to find a solution to prevent under-age drinking (which is the precursor of drunk driving) the Utah Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving partnered with Dr. Karol L. Kumpfer, program creator, who allowed them the royalty-free rights to make the Strengthening Families Program into an entertaining and educational DVD series for home-use. Three years of fund-raising, scripting, and filming with an award-winning producer from California produced an outstanding series that is now available for a nominal fee.
What’s on the DVD
Each entertaining lesson presents specific skills for both parents and kids, tells why they are important, and shows how to put them into practice. The 2-disk series comes with a guidebook describing what each lesson contains, and goals for the lesson. Each disk is a dual CD/DVD and when put in a computer, families can print off handouts and tracking sheets. Families are encouraged to watch one lesson a week and practice the skills. Lesson titles include:
1) Notice & Compliment the Good
2) Communication Skills & Fun Family Meetings
3) The 5 R’s for Successful Families: Rules, Rewards, Responsibilities, Routines, Rituals
4) Limits and Consequences Encourage Good Behavior
5) Problem Solving & Negotiation Skills
6) Stress & Anger Management
7) Using Goals & Contracts to Change Behavior
8) How Alcohol & Other Drugs Hijack the Teen Brain
9) Choosing Good Friends & Monitoring Kids’ Activities
10) Share Values & Be an Agent for Change
Studies show parents who took the Strengthening Families class experienced:
• Increased family unity
• Improved family management, structure and organization
• Decreased family conflict
• Increased parenting skills
• Increased marital communication
• Decreased stress and depression
• Increased social skills and cooperation
• Improved school performance
• Reduced misconduct and aggression
• Reduced depression and anxiety
• Dramatically reduced tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use
In school students had:
• Improved grades and test scores
• Better classroom & playground behavior
• Increased problem-solving and social skills
• Better self-management
• Parents more supportive of education
The DVD is currently being pilot-tested with 14,500 families in the Salt Lake City School District. On May 1st it will be ready for public sale. Through the generosity of MADD supporters, it will soon be available for near cost at: www.strengtheningfamiliesprogram.org. The DVD will be $4.99 for single copies plus shipping and handling; and $3 for orders over 100. Any money beyond expenses will be used to create a Spanish version of the DVD.