Canadian comedian and actor Matt John Evans delivered a serious message to Western Secondary School Students last Wednesday regarding the effects of alcohol and the importance of staying safe behind the wheel. Though the messages he sent to the students were serious in nature, he laced in some comedy to help keep the students engaged.
Evans represented the Ontario Students Against Impaired Driving. He got involved with the program 20 years ago because at the time he was working with youth. The program, he said, is designed to give teens good advice, “but doing it in a different style. Rather than scaring them I use humour because I was always the class clown. I think they need all approaches, but my approach is to strictly use humour.
“The scary stuff can scare them for a limited time, and then I think it’ll wear off. What I’m trying to do is give them skills to think about it,” Evans said, adding the students at Western were a great audience.
Through OSAID, Evans received a grant to host the lecture at various schools. He was able to perform at Western, Assumption, in Amherstburg, and St. Joseph. Though it has been a struggle to get some schools on board with the program, the Windsor-Essex County area has been incredible, Evans said.
One of the main messages Evans tries to drive home in the students is, “Try, care, and work” when it comes to academics and challenges. “I know it sounds really simple, but for me it was the basic stuff that worked for me.”
When it comes to parties, “my main message is in Canada we’ve got a total issue with what’s normal.” He noted that it is not normal to drink to the point where it needs to be thrown-up. “If all you think about all the time is when you are going to get wasted – go talk to somebody,” Evans said to the students, noting that the legal drinking age is 19.
After some of his performances, Evans has been approached by some of the younger high school students who say that they want to go to parties, but don’t want to drink. They were able to learn through his presentation that it is okay to have fun without alcohol or drugs.
During the presentation, Evans noted that driving is the number one killer of teens and it takes at least seven years of driving experience to learn how to operate a vehicle and develop what he called the split second advantage. “The more experience you have, the better.” He also stressed the importance of wearing a seatbelt.
Currently, there are around 300 schools in Ontario that are a part of the OSAID program.
For more information log onto www.osaid.org.