Huron-Bruce MADD marks its 25th anniversary
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Huron-Bruce chapter of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers).
Reaching such a milestone offers the opportunity for reflection and Co-President and Co-Founder Barb Rintoul of the Lucknow area says much has changed for the better over the last 25 years.
In an interview with The Citizen, Rintoul said she feels the local chapter of the organization has changed attitudes, saved lives and kept people safe. She has certainly seen a shift in mindset in the quarter-century since she and others worked to found the local chapter.
It was July of 1994 that Rintoul lost her son Kevin to a collision with a drunk driver. Rintoul joined forces with a small handful of other residents who had lost children under similar circumstances and worked to form the local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Later in 1994, Rintoul and several volunteers distributed honour boxes, a MADD initiative, but didn’t officially form the Huron-Bruce chapter of MADD until 1995.
She remembered the response being “wonderful” locally, with many willing to help in the early days. Not only was Rintoul seeing volunteers who had lost children and loved ones to drunk driving, but many who hadn’t, but were passionate about the cause.
As the movement locally began to grow, volunteers began working with Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere (RIDE) checkpoints. It is there, Rintoul says, that she has seen one of the biggest changes over the years.
In the early days, Rintoul said there was a feeling of almost, “how dare you?” in setting up a RIDE checkpoint, as if it was infringing on a person’s civil rights to drink and drive. Now, she said, people will thank her and the organization for the work it has done to reduce impaired driving in the community.
The support MADD has received from the community, Rintoul said, has really been heartwarming for her and others who dedicate their time to such an important cause.
In addition to on-the-road work, the local chapter of MADD has also been instrumental in reaching out to local schools, educating in high schools as well as some of the older public school classes.
Rintoul said, for example, that children in Grades 6, 7 and 8 are beginning to babysit. To educate those children on the signs of intoxication and to know to say no to a drive home from the owner of the house if they appear to be intoxicated is very important to know at that age, she said.
She adds that she has seen a fundamental difference in the generations. When she was young, for example, choosing a designated driver just wasn’t something you did at the beginning of the night.
Now, young people are very often doing this. Even that, she said, is a victory for the organization, knowing that young people are being safer when out and drinking.
Rintoul says she’s proud of the work she and the many other volunteers with the organization have done over the last 25 years, knowing they have played a role in making the roads safer and saving lives.
PROJECT RED RIBBON
The Huron-Bruce chapter of MADD kicked off its annual red ribbon campaign earlier this month in Goderich with the help of volunteers and Ontario Provincial Police officers, also marking the 25th year of the campaign in the local community.
MADD Canada marked the 25th anniversary of Project Red Ribbon in 2012. The ribbon remains a visual commitment to driving sober and helping to keep the roads safe from drunk driving.