In Tulsa County, drunk driving continues to cause devastation, leaving families without loved ones during the holiday season. To raise awareness of this issue, the Tulsa Health Department Regional Prevention Coordinator Program (RPC) and the Stop DUI Task Force have partnered to create the Tree of Life holiday display. This year, community members are invited to share a photo of their loved ones lost due to a drunk driving incident to be included on ornaments for the tree.
The Tree of Life has been a reminder of the number of families affected by drunk driving in Tulsa County since 2014. It contains wrapped gifts as a symbolic reminder of the gifts that won’t be opened this year due to a family member who is no longer here. The number of gifts corresponds to the number of lives lost in Tulsa County due to drunk driving. Visitors to Woodland Hills Mall can sign a pledge card near the tree and make a personal commitment to abstain from drinking and driving. People who consume alcohol should do so responsibly and make a plan for a sober driver or use a ride share service. Photos can be submitted digitally through the Tulsa Health Department website or physically dropped off at three locations of the Tulsa Health Department between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm. All pictures are welcomed, but digital copies are encouraged for ease of submission.
Kandice Lawson, Prevention Specialist at the Tulsa Health Department, emphasizes the importance of giving a face to those affected by drunk driving: “It is important to think of the victims as people, not only as numbers,” she said. “Giving a face to the lives lost due to drunk driving can help us see the true impact that alcohol abuse can have in our community.” By raising awareness through events like this, we hope that people will make more informed decisions when it comes to consuming alcohol and driving.