On Friday, 13th March, Red Bend Catholic College received a visitor with a very important message for the students. In 2012, Melissa and Peter McGuiness lost their 18-year-old son when he drove, speeding, under the influence of alcohol, into a stationary vehicle. The crash killed Jordan and four of his passengers. Melissa and Peter have since turned their loss into a means of preventing such senseless tragedy for others. The You Choose Youth Road safety charity Melissa and George created, travels the country giving road safety presentations to schools and youth organisations, with a mission to facilitate changes in thinking and behaviour among young drivers and passengers.
Melissa personally delivered a 75-minute interactive presentation which shared intimate dynamics of a family that could truly be anyone’s family. From the perspective of a Mum about the life of her son, a teenager who was a much loved, good person. But a teenager whose tragic choices on one night shattered five families; and left a miserable legacy for himself and his loved ones.
The presentation was relatable and immersive for the students. No one was left unaffected by Melissa’s story that taught the students that they each have the ability to save lives and to protect their families and others from the horror of road trauma through the power of choice.
You Choose has been acknowledged by a broad range of educators, police, policy-makers, academics and most importantly parents and teenagers as a unique and highly effective approach to facilitating changed behaviours in young drivers and practically reducing youth road trauma.
As of March 2020, approximately 16,000 students from 65 schools have participated in You Choose and in doing so, have become advocates for changed driving behaviours. This program has been developed and achieved while Melissa works a ‘day-job’ four days per week, and Peter works full-time five days per week.