Hidden Valley Middle School placed third in the middle school division of the 2012 “Save Your TAIL-Gate, Buckle Up” campaign sponsored by Youth of Virginia Speak Out About Traffic Safety, the Virginia State Police Association and the Allstate Foundation.
Hidden Valley Middle, along with second-place winner Auburn Middle, will receive cash prizes and other rewards. Forest Middle School, as the statewide winner, will receive a pizza party for their club, along with campaign shirts. The Allstate Foundation provided an $11,000 grant that helped fund materials and prizes for the statewide campaign.
Fifty-two schools participated in the annual campaign that ran for three weeks from September 24 to October 15. Winners were selected based on the number of seat belt educational and awareness activities, the percentage increase in seat belt use by students, and the percentage of students who signed the pledge to always buckle up. Among the schools that completed the campaign, seat belt use increased an average of 5 percent, according to pre and post seat belt checks at each school. Approximately 51% of students at each school signed the pledge to buckle up on every ride.
“The goal of the campaign is to make buckling up a habit for everyone,” said Sarah Watson, YOVASO Program Development Coordinator. “Out of the 83 teen fatalities in Virginia last year, 47 of those teens were not wearing their seat belts. Through our campaigns, YOVASO strives to educate teens about the life saving benefits of seat belts.”
The participating schools sponsored hundreds of events aimed at increasing seat belt use. Some examples include a buckle-up themed tailgate party, crashed vehicle displays, safety floats in homecoming parades, unique buckle up shirts and posters, seat belt displays and presentations to elementary schools and other organizations. Members of the school’s YOVASO clubs also sponsored educational programs where they handed out mini footballs, temporary tattoos, light-up key chains, tip cards and other materials imprinted with the buckle up message.
YOVASO is Virginia’s peer-to-peer education and prevention program for teen driver safety. Through YOVASO, teens work to advocate for safer driving among their peers and to develop positive prevention strategies for their schools and communities. The nonprofit organization, which has approximately 111 active school clubs across Virginia, is administered by the Virginia State Police Association and funded through a grant from the Virginia Highway Safety Office. For more information, contact YOVASO at 345-0003 or visit the website at www.yovaso.net.
– Submitted by Mary King