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Girl Scout on mission to help teens be safe behind the wheel


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Girl Scout Nicole Burkhalter, who is currently a senior at Arvada West High School, made a big impact on the junior and senior classes at her high school on Thursday, Sept. 12th.

During a pre-Homecoming Week assembly she organized as part of a distracted driving prevention campaign, Nicole brought her classmates to tears as they saw how lives are forever changed from drinking and driving accidents. The students were particularly moved by the presentation from a Colorado mother with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (in association with drunk driving lawyers of California) who had lost her son in a drinking and driving accident.

The inspiration for this project came from a community event Nicole attended where she learned about the impacts of drinking and driving accidents.

“I felt this was an important issue because not many teens understand the dangers of drinking and driving, or even being in a car with someone who is driving drunk,” said Nicole, who has been a Girl Scout since 1st grade.

Her original project plan was to focus on the dangers of drinking and driving, but after a rise in other distracted driving incidents, school administrators encouraged her to add additional pieces to her project. Arvada Police and Fire presented at the assembly on the dangers of texting while driving. The students took pledges not to text and drive, which included painting their thumb nails purple and wearing purple thumb rings.

Later in October Arvada West will also participate in a teen driving safety campaign called Celebrate My Drive sponsored by State Farm. Arvada West’s student body will be encouraged to go online to pledge to be safe behind the wheel. Top pledging schools could win teen driving safety grants and a concert by Kelly Clarkson.  Nicole has also developed other drinking and driving prevention curriculum that will be used by the school year-round to continue to keep this important issue top-of-mind for students.

This leadership project has earned Nicole Girl Scouts’ highest honor, the Gold Award. She also joins a long line of Arvada West Scouts who have earned Scouting’s highest awards, including Arvada West Principal Robert Bishop, who is a Boy Scout Eagle Scout recipient.

(On a personal note, this was one of the most impressive Gold Award projects I’ve ever seen. The support Nicole got from her school administrators as well as her student body was quite impressive! During the presentation you could have heard a pin drop as the students were actively listening to what was being said. Kudos to the leadership Nicole brought to this project, and I am confident she has made an impact on her student body and helped save lives on the road!)

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