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The film speaks to just what the title says, the aftermath of a horrific event in a group of peoples' lives. Last June, Juneau teenager Taylor White died as a passenger in a drunk-driving accident. The Taylor White Foundation was formed to address issues affecting young people in Juneau. This movie is the result of a group of Taylor's peers telling the story of the events and choices leading up to, and including, that horrible night. Their hope is that in sharing some tough truths with young people engaged in risky behavior and their parents, better choices will be made by all, and a dialogue between the generations can be formed.
The documentary project grew out of the desire of Taylor's friends to connect with other kids in a way that will make then think about their own choices when it comes to driving under the influence or riding with someone under the influence of alcohol or drugs. They bring the pain and learning from their own experience to share the impact losing a close friend to an automobile accident involving drunk driving has had on their lives. Our hope is that through this video, others will realize this can happen to you without having to go through the tragedy.
We would like to thank the Youth Action Committee, Juneau Douglas High School C.H.O.I.C.E. Program, the Alaska Association School Board/Alaska ICE program and Lucid Reverie so much for their generous contributions and support to the TBW Foundation for the documentary project.
The documentary filming and editing was completed in two phases. The first phase included edited interviews of the 4 teens most closely involved in the accident. A "school cut" version was presented in the three Juneau high schools during the last 2 weeks in April.
The film was presented 12 times and reached all of the juniors and seniors at Thunder Mountain High School, all of the students at Yakoosge, and approximately 200 of the juniors and seniors at Juneau Douglas High School. Taylor's father, introduced the film and the 3 teens that made up the panel that were also part of the presentation. The film was 18 minutes in length and consisted primarily of the interviews of the person driving the car resulting in the accident, the other passenger in the car, and one of the first two kids on the scene following the accident.
Each teen spoke for about 2-5 minutes about the impact the accident had on them, what they wished they had known or understood that might have prevented the accident, and what they hoped the teens in the audience would think about to avoid being in their shoes.
After they told their stories the floor was opened for discussion. This was facilitated by the counselors and teachers from each of the schools who were present at each of the showings.
The overall experience was very powerful. The feedback from the audience in the form of written notes, follow up calls and texts were supportive to the teens involved and Taylor's father that the presentation and the video had impact even though it was clear the emotional toll it took to make the presentation was quite high.
The teens involved in the video have gained maturity, shown courage, and conviction in the importance of the message to their peers. They also have had clear evidence of the power of speaking from your personal story and relating through experience. It was a pleasure to watch the leadership skills grow as the kids took responsibility for parts of the process and became involved in helping organize for the filming, providing music, editing, and crafting the format of the presentation.
Our hope is that the video will reach out beyond Juneau boundaries and be universal enough in theme to impact teens wherever they may be.