LIMA — In the wake of tragic crashes that injured or killed members of the Allen East school community, students wanted to do something to help stop future tragedies. Kelly Prichard, a special-education teacher at the high school, helped get the ball rolling.
In the years since, the Students Against Destructive Decisions group at the school has put on presentations and held other programs to help educate those in their school and elsewhere about the dangers of drinking and texting behind the wheel. On Tuesday, Prichard, the group’s adviser, was one of eight individuals or groups recognized as part of the Lima-Allen County Safe Community Coalition and Fraternal Order of Police annual award luncheon.
“It’s amazing to be recognized by the people closest to you because sometimes they’re just sort of used to what you’re doing,” Prichard said. “It’s neat to have all the people that mean a lot to me and mean a lot to this community recognize the job that the kids are doing.”
It was an easy decision to get involved with forming the group, said Prichard, who was honored for her efforts with youth safety.
“There was definitely a need, which is why a student came to me several years ago expressing concern and wanting to get something started,” she said. “Out of the need I think great things have happened.”
Evelyn Smith, coordinator of the safe community coalition, said having the message about making the right decisions come from their peers rather than adults helps give the message added emphasis.
“I don’t think adults carry the same kind of pressure on teens as peer-to-peer, teen-to-teen. I think when you have that kind of relationship and that kind of encouragement going is a great thing,” Smith said. “Parents aren’t there all the time, adults aren’t there all the time. These kids they know. They can help be a source of strength when another kid is weak and maybe is tempted to do something they shouldn’t do. These kids really are a good influence.”
This year’s outstanding citizen award was presented to Bruce McCullough, who retired from Husky Energy Lima Refinery. Smith said McCullough volunteers to assist senior citizens, helps at the Allen County Sheriff’s Office and helps with seat belt checks for the Safe Community Coalition.
“He says he’s going to go and help anywhere that I can. He’s just been an invaluable resource,” Smith said of McCullough. “It’s just wonderful to have that kind of volunteer spirit and attitude at heart. We really appreciate him and we just want to tell him that.”
McCullough said he doesn’t volunteer for recognition, but because he’s been volunteering all his life.
“I’ve always volunteered. I started as a young boy volunteering up at the YMCA teaching kids how to swim and stuff like that,” McCullough said. “Through the years I’ve progressed from different places. I just like to give back.”