Cars were crashed, breathing was difficult, balance was challenged and targets were missed as Pratt High School students participated in the PHS Student Health and Safety Fair March 17 in the PHS gym.

A variety of devices were used to simulate impairment as students took on simple tasks like catching a ball, walking a straight line, solving a maze and even taking a breath.

One lesson was a simulation of driving while texting. Students sat in front of a laptop that had a driving simulation that was interrupted with a phone sending a text message. Students tried to continue driving while they were answering the text message and the results were very bad. Students again and again crashed their simulated cars while trying to answer the text message, said Pratt County Sheriff Deputy Joe Ohler who ran the test site.

Bre Becker slipped into oncoming traffic a couple of times as she tried to text. Eventually, she ran into another vehicle.

The Kansas Highway Patrol had special goggles that simulated impairment from alcohol. Students put on the goggles and tried to walk a straight line and throw and catch a ball. Ryan Bailey had a difficult time keeping his balance as he attempted to walk the line. He said the goggles made him dizzy and threw him off balance. It was difficult to know how close he was to the line.

Bailey said this test would help people not want to drink and drive.

Chris Cooprider and Stephanie Reichenberger put on Fatal Vision goggles that simulated the impairment from marijuana and other drugs. Balls were thrown to each and they were told to catch only certain colored balls.

Cooprider had trouble determining which balls he was supposed to catch. Reighenberger said it was scary to see the consequences of using drugs and how it affected decision-making.

Students also had to complete a maze using Fatal Vision goggles and that proved to be very difficult and confusing, said Daniel Debeau.

Students got a unique experience when they were wrapped in a tight Velcro fabric wrap and had to blow up a balloon. The garment reproduced the difficulty COPD or emphysema patients have when they try to breath. Smoking cigarettes can lead to COPD, a respiratory illness that makes it difficult to breathe.

Keisha Briggeman tried it and said it was hard to get enough air to blow up the balloon.

Students also got to test their athletic ability and balance when standing on one leg on a bowl-shaped half ball. Several students took the test farther when they used a hula-hoop while standing on the ball. Brett Barnard said it tested his ankle strength and definitely made him use his core muscles.

Other information stations at the fair revealed the problems of wearing ear buds and loud music or sounds, the fits of a well balanced diet and how diet and daily habits such as sun bathing and using a tanning bed can have an impact on cancer.

School nurse Glenda Houdyshell said the goal of the fair was to educate students on safety and making good decisions.