NEW BRAUNFELS — This past week, several teenagers and their parents received an exercise in maturity — courtesy of the New Braunfels Police Department and Community Teen Court.
The seminar, called Operation Intervention, was held this past Tuesday at Municipal Court. The three-hour presentation included schooling teen court defendants and their parents on the dangers associated with alcohol abuse, driving while impaired and decision making.
“It’s an alcohol and drug prevention and awareness program. They have a combination of classroom interaction between teens and their parents, and other hands-on activities,” said New Braunfels Community Teen Court coordinator Mary Alice Smallbone, who led the event.
Smallbone said 41 teens and 20 parents attended, watching videos and participating in various exercises that helped simulate the dangers of impaired driving. Behind the police department, headquartered next to municipal court, was the NBPD simulator — called the DWIpod — where teens got to experience things first hand.
“The kids got to see what it’s like to be impaired,” Smallbone said. “They put what they call drunk driving goggles on the kids to let them see that, and to show how easy it is to lose control when they’re driving a car or any kind of vehicle.”
The NBPD launched Operation Intervention back in 2007, and since, hundreds of teens have participated.
One of the videos paid tribute to Anna Maria Hernandez, a 19-year-old University of Texas student who was killed by a wrong-way drunken driver back in December 2003.
“It showed them what a waste it was for her to have lost her life at such a young age,” Smallbone said. “It was dedicated to her — showing lots pictures and footage of her at graduation and other events.
“It’s a pretty emotional scene — especially when the kids are sitting there with their parents, who are thinking ‘That could be my child.’”
Earlier this month, Bulverde, Spring Branch and Comal County emergency services personnel helped Smithson Valley High School students stage a performance of “Shattered Dreams,” which painted a disturbing portrait of the consequences of drinking and driving.
No parent or teen wants to see that scenario become reality — which made everyone embrace the Teen Court simulation all the more.
“We had some really great evaluations and comments the kids made,” Smallbone said. “It was really a great turnout.”