Spin Doctors: A student leadership project goes viral

Written by: Pat Morden

It’s a YouTube video that has been viewed more than 25,000 times.

Accompanied by pounding music, we watch several young people chug bottles of water, place their foreheads against the end of a baseball bat and spin around, and then try to use a key to unlock a car or house door. The hashtag at the end: #takethekeys.

The challenge, a version of a popular drinking game, was created by Jordan Ammoscato and her team as part of Brescia’s Dimensions of Leadership course to raise awareness about the dangers of driving drunk. “We wanted to simulate how you feel when you’re under the influence,” she says. “If people have trouble with the key, they shouldn’t be getting in the car.”

Professor Kathy Burns teaches the Dimensions of Leadership course. It culminates in a group assignment — a project that pulls together the learning of the past year and provides an opportunity to apply team leadership skills. Once the project is complete, the teams report back about the theories and skills they used, and their major learnings.

Burns says that students often plan a fundraising event or clothing drive. Ammoscato and her team went further. “We wanted to use social media,” she says. “For our age group, we thought it was a better way to reach more people. And we knew how big the ALS ice bucket challenge was.” The team also recognized that impaired driving was a problem in their demographic. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 16 to 25 year-olds, and alcohol or drug impairment is a factor in more than half of the crashes.

Each team member made a video doing the challenge and posted it on their social media the weekend before the project was due. By the time the team presented in class, there were 22,000 views, and the number continued to climb. Additional members of the project team included: Emily Manka; Luke Fenn and Riley Oickle.

If people have trouble with the key, they shouldn’t be getting in the car.

“The project was sparked by creativity, it was simple and engaging, and it was impactful and filled with purpose,” says Burns. “I am very proud of them.”

For Ammoscato, the key learning was clear. “We realized that we could have an idea, put it into action and see it make a difference.”

To watch the video visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVmgRKxmp0w&feature=youtu.be