SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — What started as a pledge to stay drug and alcohol-free for prom night 14 years ago in Springfield is now a statewide program.
Safe and Sober was a campaign Kurt Larson and his wife came up with to bring a safety message to prom night to help teens make good decisions.
Their kids were in high school then, and Larson, an injury attorney, has dealt with many clients who had lost a loved one in a drunk driving crash. Many times, he says, it was a young driver.
So, they started Safe and Sober at the five Springfield high schools. Today, Safe and Sober is taught in 500 schools statewide with 170,000 students participating in every year.
Larson started with talks at the schools, but now the education is outcome-based – a 30-minute video message taught, however, the school chooses. A new video comes out every year.
The teens are stills asked to take a pledge to stay drug and alcohol-free, vape free or any other dangers that might come up.
The program also educates parents and Larson says that’s where it all starts.
“Parents really set the bar. Believe it or not, when I talk to students who don’t drink and don’t do drugs, they tell me their parents are their biggest mentors because the parents set the standard of expectation,” he said.
Larson says while it’s hard to track how successful a prevention measure is, he says starting the conversation and ensuring students have the information is an important step.
“We know we’re saving lives. We know pledge cards are being signed. That is a measure of success in itself,” he said. “We know they are receiving the education and it is changing their behaviors.”
Larson says Safe and Sober has been a Southwest Missouri funded program for many years, and while the education program has expanded statewide, the funding still has to follow.
A luncheon will be held on November 20 with partners in Columbia to try and expand the opportunities for funding. Those partners include insurance companies, hospitals, local business and others who share the concern that kids need these safety tools and education.
For more information, click here.
And for parents, there’s a website to learn more about starting the conversation with kids: safeandsoberparents.com