The town of Winchester, New Hampshire, only has a population of about 4,500 people. Yet, despite its small size relative to other New England communities, it still has plenty of places for residents to drink alcohol. At last count, there were five — all within walking distance of each other and in the center of town. In Missy Calderwood’s opinion, the number of bars is disproportionate to the number of people in the town. “We have a lot of generational history of substance abuse in our town,” says Missy. “Children grow up seeing their grandpa and their dad drinking heavily, so they think it’s just a normal part of life.”
Missy is the drug-free community coordinator for We’ve Got Your Back, a coalition that receives federal funding to educate the public about underage drinking and its effect on the community. She spends most of her days educating middle school students about what happens when they choose to drink alcohol. Over the past couple of years, she has found a trusted partner in Innocorp, ltd., the creator of hands-on tools that organizations use to create prevention outreach campaigns.
Fatal Vision® Alcohol Impairment Goggles
When Missy brings Innocorp’s Fatal Vision® Alcohol Impairment Goggles to her middle school presentations, the young people love trying them on and watching their friends attempt to perform tasks while under the simulated influence of alcohol. She remembers one girl who decided she would be able to perform better on the Danger in Every Step (DIES) Distracted Driving Activity Mat if she closed one eye while wearing the goggles. Missy instructed her to “drive” the miniature car attached to a steering wheel to a specific building on the mat. The girl followed the instructions, and then, after taking off the goggles, learned she was on top of a building that was next to the one where she was supposed to park. “The students really see how impaired someone’s driving is when they drink,” says Missy.
At community events — such as the town’s annual Pickle Fest — Missy invites locals and guests to try intoxiclock® Pro, an interactive tool that demonstrates visually how different types and amounts of alcoholic drinks raise a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Recently, she sat down with one man who assured her he could consume four drinks in a certain amount of time and not experience any impairment. Once she entered his gender, age, weight and type of drinks into the system, he learned his BAC was much higher than he thought, and that it stayed in his system for longer than he realized. He understood he could have been arrested for drunk driving and decided right then he would make some changes in his drinking habits.
Another young woman who was turning 21 in a few weeks approached Missy because she wanted to plan her night out. She made her choice of drink, and together, they learned that just two drinks would keep her BAC below .08. “She decided right then that when she turned 21, she would restrict herself to that amount,” says Missy. “She knew what her limit was, and she was ready to drink responsibly.”
Missy feels that intoxiclock® Pro is an especially good tool for her community because of the generational substance abuse. Many people have built up such a tolerance to alcohol that they assume it isn’t affecting them. They don’t realize it’s still in their system — even when they think they can’t feel it.
The We’ve Got Your Back office is located across the street from a distillery, and Missy hopes to talk with the facility about setting up a table where she can use intoxiclock® Pro with patrons. She’d like to show them how their favorite spirits affect their BAC, so they can be better informed at the time of purchase. “I feel like every organization should have intoxiclock, because it definitely shows what responsible drinking is,” says Missy.
Fatal Vision® Marijuana Simulation Experience Goggles
The state of New Hampshire is surrounded by Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont — all of which have legalized recreational marijuana. Missy and those with whom she works know it is only a matter of time before it becomes a serious issue in their town, so they bought Innocorp’s Marijuana Simulation Experience. Marijuana affects the brain differently than alcohol, and the Fatal Vision® marijuana goggles reflect that difference. Rather than distorting the vision so the participant stumbles and loses coordination, the goggles impair the participant’s visual perception. This lack of perception means the participant does not have all the necessary information to successfully complete specially designed activities.
“We want to be proactive, to show people the impact of using recreational marijuana with a simple activity,” says Missy. “We have just fallen in love with all the Innocorp products.”