Another Side of Parking
My oldest son will soon be graduating from high school and beginning his trek to college. (Yes, folks, I began my career in the parking industry with no kids, but soon learned that one can raise a family as a parking “magnet” despite the public wondering what we do for a living.)
So, in my other job – as a dad – I became involved in “Safe & Sane,” a program that I think is worth mentioning.
Some schools sponsor and hold these drug- and alcohol-free, all-night celebrations after their proms, but most are held after graduation ceremonies.
It should be duly noted that schools throughout the country hold similar events under different names. However, in Frederick, MD, the county I call “home” developed and named its program Safe & Sane.
Linganore High School was the first in Frederick County, MD, to establish a Safe & Sane program, which I am proud to share is in its 26th year of existence. Its goal is to hold an event where all participate to ensure their safety after prom and graduation, the two major high school events typically known for increased alcohol and drug use.
The program gives the opportunity and encouragement for our teens that will lead to safe and sane decision-making.
We have, throughout our operations careers, seen similar programs (e.g., Safe Ride). In fact, I was involved in one of the very first Safe Ride programs at a large mixed-use parking facility that connected to a few restaurants and bars. I’m sure we can all recall such experiences.
Here are a few facts related to the Safe & Sane program in Frederick County:
This is a yearlong endeavor for the volunteer Safe & Sane Program Committee.
This time of the year, the Graduation Event runs from about 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. It’s held immediately after graduation ceremonies in the same facility, eliminating the need for graduates to drive themselves to a different location.
While participation varies from school to school, it can reach as high as 98%. Linganore ranges between 85% and 90%.
The event requires 100-plus volunteers to organize, fund-raise, and work the event.
Food is provided throughout the night.
Entertainment includes inflatable basketball/volleyball tournaments, swimming, a DJ, karaoke, a “casino” room, a mechanical bull, a “money machine,” ping pong toss, and a video game room.
Attendees are provided an assortment of gifts, and are able to purchase prizes with tickets they win throughout the night.
Ten big prizes are given away at the end of the Safe & Sane Graduation Event, the largest of which is a car donated by a local Ford Jeep Dodge Chrysler dealership (16 years running).
This program is sponsored by the PTSA at Linganore High School, as well as a few other Frederick County schools. It’s a nonprofit at other schools.
Interestingly enough, several graduates come back each year to help with the Safe & Sane Graduation Event – a thoughtful gesture demonstrating to us their appreciation and the positive impact that the program has had on them.
Robert Milner is director of Parking and Transportation Services at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Note: Although the goal of my article was more informational, each Safe & Sane type of program, including the one at Linganore High, is always looking for donated items. To those organizations interested in making donations (company logo Frisbees, stress balls, T-shirts, etc.) or in learning more about implementing such a program at your area high school, please e-mail either Chip Harner at firstname.lastname@example.org or Robert Milner at email@example.com. It truly is a rewarding experience. – RM