During National Teen Driver Safety Week, October 16-22, 2011, the students of Project Ignition are organizing powerful awareness and engagement activities across the United States.
According to claims data from State Farm, October is the most dangerous month of the year for teen driver crashes as students have returned to school, attend homecoming and drive more due to busier schedules.
Some of Project Ignition activities
Project Ignition students work especially hard to raise awareness and change behaviors during October.
Project IgnitionEnlarge Photo
- At Fieldcrest High School in Minonk, Illinois, students from one of the Project Ignition National Leader Schools took the lead and invited Miss Illinois, Hannah Smith, to present an all-school program on teen driver safety in the community. Miss Illinois will sign the students’ pledge wall, joining thousands of others in a commitment to never text and drive, and participate in discussions as well.
- In a similar effort, students at Freedom High School in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, are leading their community by hosting Jacy Good at their all-school assembly. Jacy lost both of her parents and nearly her own life when another driver was distracted.
- Other students are using National Teen Driver Safety Week as an opportunity to highlight their significant work with community partners to change or enforce laws. Texas law bans cell phone use in school zones, but only where a state-approved sign is in place. Springlake-Earth High School student leaders in Earth, Texas, worked with the Texas Department of Transportation to obtain the signs and will unveil them this week in a ceremony with the entire student body and their community partners.
- Project Ignition National Leader School students at Eureka High School in Eureka, California, Harry D. Jacobs High School in Algonquin, Illinois, and New Castle Jr./Sr. High School in New Castle, Pennsylvania, will lead their peers in activities using Fatal Vision Goggles. These student leaders will ask their peers to run through obstacle courses, drive Go Karts through empty parking lots, play Wii games and compete in seat belt races while wearing the goggles that simulate impairment. Throughout the year these and other Project Ignition schools weave similar experiences into classroom curriculum so that students can examine what they experienced, what it meant to them, and what they want to do about it.
- Other National Leader Schools, like Ionia Intermediate School District in Ionia, Michigan, will be educating the entire community this week. Student-produced public service announcements will air on local television. Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley High School students created a billboard with their safe driving messages and secured their local hospital as a sponsor for the display.
The importance of an ongoing campaign
While Project Ignition students recognize the opportunity that National Teen Driver Safety Week offers to raise awareness, they also know the importance of an ongoing campaign to save lives on the road. So, rather than just raise awareness during October, they work to raise awareness throughout the year as well as encourage deep engagement in the issue, discussion among peers and integration into high school curriculum. This is a teaching methodology called service-learning.
In an evolution of service-learning, students are intentionally moving away from simple scare tactics like mock crashes with fake blood to strategies that help their peers better understand the issue and get involved. Action is always the key. Here’s an example: “In physics class a state highway patrolman explained the role of physics in car crashes and I truly realized the extent of the damage my decisions behind the wheel can create,” said Shawn Smith, a Project Ignition student at Ridgemont High School in Ridgeway, Ohio. Smith also now recognizes how physics concepts apply in the world.
About Project Ignition
Project Ignition is funded by State Farm and coordinated by the national Youth Leadership Council. Project Ignition students change community norms around teen driver safety while making powerful academic connections. Grant applications are currently being accepted for more students, teachers and communities to join in this national, ongoing effort to save lives on the road through service-learning.
For more information, visit www.sfprojectignition.com. Grant applications are due November 15.