Keith A. Somers International Foundation
I was asked by a friend to tell my story to a group of local college students. We both hoped that hearing of my experience and asking me questions would heighten student awareness of the terrible cost of distracted or impaired driving and not take those risks.
While the talk did have this effect, after the presentation, two students told me in confidence that they had been planning on taking their own lives that night, but, after hearing my story, changed their minds. At subsequent talks, students approached me to share heartbreaking dilemmas facing them at such a young age. I was not prepared for that and that the thought of those students still haunts me.
My vision for the KASIF is to continually increase the number of students that I speak to, and to maintain the connection and trust that this talks inspire, assemble a team of professional adolescent counselors who can provide the specific help that students need.
Short term goals: Arrange to present dynamic personal presentations/workshops to reach students and develop relationships with administration in schools and non-profit community organizations to open doors to further programs. An array of programs are available, with safe driving education as a leading presentation. Create a team of professional adolescent counselors to connect students with the help they need and follow up with every student for a period of time after they reach out for help.
Medium term goals: Find and connect with like-minded social entrepreneurs and organizations targeting at-risk student vulnerabilities to develop synergies to create even more powerful behavior changes in even greater numbers of at-risk youth
Long range goals: Based on ongoing experience, develop and refine a framework to scale the aforementioned presentations and workshops to reach a maximum number of at-risk youth. Our plans include developing a hybrid format beginning with a powerful recorded presentation, followed by interactive workshops to develop tools for at-risk students to make healthy choices is areas that their demographic has traditionally made unhealthy ones.
Unmet Needs that KASIF Addresses
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. Based on their findings, in 2014 2,650 teens in the United States aged 16–19 were killed and almost 292,000 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor-vehicle crashes. That means that seven teens ages 16 to 19 died every day from motor vehicle injuries.
Vehicular injury is not the only serious threat to teenage lives. Other teenagers may pose threats from bullying and abuse, as do, sadly, some adults. Seemingly self-inflicted injuries from alcohol and drug abuse, eating disorders and suicide also loom in the future of many students. See Appendix II for the alarming current statistics.
While organizations and programs exist to support teenagers, the data shows that there exists a gap in these services that the most vulnerable youth fall into. We hope to fill that gap.