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“Fatal Vision” lets youth experience negative effects of getting drunk

By Susan Stewart / L’Observateur / February 11, 1998

A national program called “Fatal Vision” is having a positive impact on youth in the tri-parish area.

Fatal Vision is a program that allows the wearer, through a pair of specially-made goggles, to experience the effects of being drunk without actually being intoxicated.

Paula Wilking of LaPlace discovered the program when she traveled with her daughter, Stephanie, to Atlanta for a sheriff’s convention, where Stephanie was recognized for her efforts in making the public aware of the need for bullet-proof vests.

The program is operated in conjunction with Kids For Kops, a program Stephanie founded after the fatal shooting of St. John the Baptist ParishSheriff’s Deputy Barton Granier.

Through the program, Stephanie, an eighth-grader at The Glade School, and other members are making sure every police officer in the parish gets a bullet-proof vest.

That is also a wish of Brenda Badeaux, sister of the slain officer.

“When it happened to my brother, I told my husband that I just couldn’t see another family go through what we went through, and I knew I had to do something,” Badeaux said.

Unbeknownst to Badeaux, someone else shared her sentiments. Afterreading the story of Granier’s murder, Stephanie took action and decided to step out on behalf of all police officers.

Badeaux admits that she didn’t know how to get started, “but once I heard about Stephanie’s program, I said, ‘Well, this is my open door, ‘ and I started working with her,” she said.

Since then Badeaux said the group has sponsored a variety of activities to raise money for Kids For Kops.

Aside from Kids For Kops, Stephanie and her mom, along with directors Badeaux and Sandi Lambert, are also very active with Fatal Vision.

Fatal Vision goggles obstruct the wearers vision, preventing him from focusing properly.

“When Stephanie tried the goggles she was determined that she could defeat them, but to her amazement she couldn’t. She said we need to get apair of these goggles for St. John Parish and teach the kids not to drinkand drive,” Wilking said.

Badeaux said the program and the goggles show those who try them you can’t function when you drink.

“It really puts you through the test,” she said.

Wilking said the group voluntarily goes into local schools to demonstrate their effects.

“The students think they can walk a straight line and they actually think they’re doing it and they’re not. They can’t even grab a pen,” she said,laughing.

Wilking said they start with the low grades, allowing hands-on experience because young children need to see the negative effects of drinking.

“Even for a fifth- or sixth-grader, it plants the seed in their mind and in the future it may keep them from drinking and driving,” Wilking said.

Sgt. Mike Hoover with the St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office is also a biginfluence on the children along with Wilking, Badeaux and Lambert.

Cpl. Craig Gommel of the St. John Sheriff’s Office has also been veryactive in the organization.

If anyone is interested in a demonstration call Kids For Kops directors at 652-6114.

Statistics on Drunk Driving Accidents: * One in three students in a classroom my not be here in three to five years because of drinking and driving.

* Every five seconds, a teen-ager is killed in an alcohol-related accident.

* Alcohol-related crashes are the number one cause of death among young people ages 16-24.

* Over 100,000 people lose their lives in alcohol-related accidents per year.

* Alcohol is involved in 60 percent of reported cases of child abuse.

* Twenty-five cents of every dollar goes toward drunk driving accidents.

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