Public Health Students Participate As Panelists in Drug-Impaired Driving Conference

Meleana Gray, Lucy Lee, Daria Parkinson, Sofia Aguirre, Alicia Todd

Mothers Against Drunk Driving Hawai‘i (MADD) in collaboration with The Queen’s Health Systems, Hawai‘i State Department of Health, Hawai‘i State Department of Transportation, and the Coalition for a Drug-Free Hawai‘i held their first-ever conference on drug-impaired driving: Drugs & Driving – A Call to Action, which was held on Thursday, Oct. 11. MADD Hawai‘i brought together local stakeholders and national experts to focus on education, prevention and collaboration measures concerning the issue of drug-impaired driving among young adults. An emphasis was placed on how this issue affects youth and young adults (aged 16-28), because an increasing number of young drivers are being injured or killed on our roads. In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System reported that drugs were present in 43% of Hawai‘i’s fatally injured drivers, many of whom were teens and young adults.

Two HPU students in the Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH) program, Sofia Aguirre and Daria Parkinson, participated in a panel discussion on best practices for encouraging youth and young adult participation in important causes, including effective messaging, targeted peer-to-peer campaigns and engaging social media outreach. Aguirre and Parkinson, alongside two seniors from Kamehameha Schools, are currently serving as Youth Ambassadors for MADD Hawai‘i in an effort to raise awareness on this rapidly growing issue. 

MADD Hawai‘i plans to combine these different perspectives of law enforcement, policy, the judicial system, data, funding, communications and emerging technologies to develop local community and policy agendas that community coalitions can undertake over the next several years. 

Aguirre became involved with MADD Hawai‘i through her BSPH Practicum internship placement with the agency, which began in Summer 2018. Based on the success of her internship, Aguirre was recently hired by MADD Hawai‘i to continue her work with the agency. 

Aguirre and Parkinson are featured in the following MADD Hawai‘i video, posted here, and released on Dec 3; the video promotes the organization’s Drugged Driving Campaign.      

Pictured from left to right:  Meleana Gray, Kamehameha Schools student; Lucy Lee, Kamehameha Schools student; Daria Parkinson, HPU BSPH student; Sofia Aguirre, HPU BSPH student; and Alicia Todd, a staff member of Bennet Group Strategic Communications, conference organizers