Staunton River High School in Bedford County and Drew Middle School in Stafford County are the statewide winners of the 2015 “Save Your TAIL-Gate, Buckle Up” campaign sponsored by Youth of Virginia Speak Out About Traffic Safety (YOVASO), the Virginia State Police and the Allstate Foundation.
Staunton River placed first in the high school division and Drew placed first in the middle school division.
Liberty High School in Bedford County placed second in the high school division and Stuarts Draft High School in Augusta County placed third. Central Academy Middle School in Botetourt County was second in the middle school division and Auburn Middle School in Montgomery County was third.
As the statewide winner among high schools, Staunton River will receive a school-wide celebration for students and faculty, with food, safety activities, music and prizes. Liberty and Stuarts Draft will receive cash prizes and a banner. Drew will receive $500 and a banner for its first place win among middle schools. Central Academy and Auburn will receive smaller cash prizes and a banner.
All prizes for the “Save Your Tail-Gate” Campaign were funded by a grant from the Allstate Foundation. The grant also funded additional campaign materials.
“The Allstate Foundation supports programs that have the best potential for improving the lives of youth in our local communities,” said Kyla O’Brien, Allstate Foundation spokesperson. “The ‘Save Your Tail-Gate, Buckle Up” Campaign is one of those programs. This grant allows us to give back in a manner that reflects our commitment to the community.”
Sixty-one schools participated in the annual campaign that ran from September 14 to October 9. Winners were selected based on the quality and effectiveness of their campaign, including the impact of educational and awareness activities, the percentage increase in seat belt use by students, the percentage of students who signed the pledge to always buckle up, and their activity on social media, including participating in this year’s seat belt “selfie” challenge. Among the schools that completed the campaign, seat belt use increased an average of 11 percent.
“The goal of the campaign is to make buckling up a choice teens want to make,” said Casey Palmer, YOVASO Program Development Coordinator. “Out of the 67 teen fatalities in Virginia last year, 29 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 buckle-up themed tailgate parties, safety demonstrations, unique
buckle up shirts and posters, pep rallies promoting traffic safety and social media campaigns. Members of the school’s YOVASO clubs also sponsored educational programs on seat belt safety and rewarded participants with earphone organizers, tip cards, pledge cards and other materials imprinted with the buckle up message.
“Our school was thrilled to participate in the Save Your TAIL-Gate campaign again this year,” said Martha Mikell, school sponsor and teacher at Stuarts Draft. “From pledge tables at football games to a pledge night at a local restaurant, to applying temporary tattoos during the day, we were able to get almost our entire student body involved as well as our local community. It was a great way to have some fun and remind everyone to buckle up.”
“The campaign was lots of fun, but extremely educational as well,” said Hunter Barrett, a student at Central Academy Middle School. “YOVASO has definitely impacted a lot of people and their ideas about safe driving.”
Carson Cook, also a student at Central Academy, said he hopes other schools have the same experience his school is so privileged to have.
YOVASO is Virginia’s peer-to-peer education and prevention program for teen driver and passenger 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 program, which has approximately 145 active school clubs across Virginia, is administered by the Virginia State Police and funded through grants from the Virginia DMV Highway Safety Office. For more information, contact YOVASO at (540) 375-3596 or visit the website at yovaso.org