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Penticton students scared straight by ICBC speaker

Kevin Brooks talks with a student audience of about 600 kids at Princess Margaret Secondary School Tuesday morning. He told them and showed them the results of impaired driving, pleading with the kids not to make the same mistake he did. - Mark Brett/Western News
Kevin Brooks talks with a student audience of about 600 kids at Princess Margaret Secondary School Tuesday morning. He told them and showed them the results of impaired driving, pleading with the kids not to make the same mistake he did.
— image credit: Mark Brett/Western News

Since the devastating accident that claimed the life of his friend and left him in a wheelchair paralyzed from the chest down, Kevin Brooks has touched over a half-million people with his story.

But no matter how many times he talks about what happened that booze-fuelled Saturday night, the end result doesn’t get any easier to swallow.

Brooks, now 35, was extremely impaired when he and buddy Brendon left a party. While driving at excessive speed he failed to negotiate a familiar corner and hit a curb, sending the car crashing end over end.

Against the odds he survived, however it wasn’t until weeks later, lying cut up and badly broken in a hospital bed, the hockey player, skateboarder and snowboarder first learned the tragic results of that fateful night that would forever change his life.

Trying to prevent others, especially young people, from making that same mistake, Brooks began an awareness campaign and now works in conjunction with ICBC to spread the word.

On Tuesday he stopped by Princess Margaret Secondary and Penticton Secondary schools to once again deliver his message.

Although he is now quite a bit older than most of his audience, Brooks is still able to speak to the kids in a language they understand. Talking the talk, the Creature as he became known in school, bared his soul for Maggie students in the morning, showed them pictures and videos of his life before the wheelchair, the damaged car and his life since.

“Everything I loved, everything I lived for, everything I looked forward to, gone,” Brooks told the students sitting in the quiet auditorium.

“I didn’t want to be alive but the irony of it was I couldn’t get out of the hospital bed to do anything about it even if  I wanted to.

“But then I realized I can’t go back, you can’t change the past so it’s what happens next,”

When he was finished the kids gave him a standing ovation. But did it hit home?

“It made a big impact on me, I was totally inspired it was just so powerful with the choices that he made and how it affected his life,” said Grade 10 student Tye Gordon afterwards.

“Hearing this, if I ever found myself in that position I would definitely think twice.”

Natasha Faye, 14, agreed: “I don’t go out to parties and things like that but maybe when I do I will think back to him.

“Seeing what can happen would really make me think about it a lot, especially what it did to the families.”

Although he has told his story many times, the passion and emotion in Brooks’ voice remains.

“I’m still working through it every time I talk about it,” he said.

“It is such a healing process and I need it.

“They (audiences) really are my counsellors.

“The only other thing I want to say is just wiggle your toes and realize how lucky you are.”

 

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