Thursday, October 27, guest speaker Debbie Allen came to Blind Brook High School to educate and inform the students on the issue of alcohol poisoning as as well as her late daughter’s story. Allen is the mother of Shelby, a beautiful girl who died at the age of 17 due to binge drinking. Since Shelby’s passing, Allen has made it her goal to educate America’s youth on how to handle a person reacting to alcohol poisoning. She has created a foundation entitled “Shelby’s Rules” to reach out to teens and help them make correct decisions when it comes to drinking.
Following the assembly, FOCUS reporters Spencer Kaplan and Rachel Penn had the privilege of sitting down with Debbie Allen and asking her a few questions about her foundation.
SK: “What exactly does your foundation do?”
DA: “My foundation is all about saving lives. My husband and I travel wherever we are asked to share this little hour of information that is really important for our children to save their lives because it is information that I learned that they don’t know and the adults don’t know.”
Allen mentioned that her foundation is very important because the dangers of alcohol poisoning are not very well-known. She believes strongly that through her lecture series, she is able to inform people about the dangers of alcohol poisoning and hopefully influence the decisions that people will make after the fact. Allen has traveled coast to coast visiting high schools across the nation giving these lectures.
DA: “We’ve been from the East Coast to the West Coast and in between. On this side [East Coast] of our nation we have been to Massachusetts, New Jersey, Louisiana. As of now we have only gone within the nation, Hawaii, Wyoming, Texas. There were discussions of traveling to Mexico but that never panned out.”
Debbie Allen feels that the best way to avoid a situation such as Shelby’s is to learn everything that you can about alcohol poisoning, whether that entails how to prevent it, how to recognize its symptoms, or what to do if a friend is suffering from alcohol poisoning. Many times teenagers are not aware of the symptoms of alcohol poisoning so do not do anything to help someone in need. By learning everything there is to know about alcohol poisoning, teenagers, as well as adults, will be able to recognize “red flags” and react properly in order to save a life.
SK: “If you could say one thing to Blind Brook students what would it be? And the same thing to the parents.”
DA: “To the parents, well that’s easy, I would say learn everything and anything you can about alcohol poisoning. By learning that, if you are involved in a behavior that is dangerous for children, you will learn that it is dangerous. I think that I have faith in most people to change their ways.
To the children, you guys are my fuel. I have been all over and it’s the kids that instantly get it. It’s your world that I’m talking about, it’s your world that I learned about. I feel that the most important thing is that if you see someone having trouble with alcohol call, call for help.”
Allen hopes that her foundation, along with the help of Shelby’s friends, can influence students all over the world to make appropriate decisions involving drinking and helping a friend. Shelby’s Rules will hopefully leave a mark on the students that she speaks to and change society’s view on binge drinking.