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Harrisonburg: Virginia teens assemble for four-day safe driving retreat

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More than 140 Virginia teens representing schools and youth groups arrived at JMU today for the 2024 YOVASO Summer Leadership Retreat, Empowering Stars for Safe Teen Driving. 

The four-day, three-night retreat offers a variety of educational and hands-on activities designed for teens who want to learn how to be safer drivers and passengers, as well as teens who want to train as leaders for youth traffic safety. The Summer Leadership Retreat is sponsored by Youth of Virginia Speak Out About Traffic Safety (YOVASO), Virginia State Police (VSP), Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (Virginia DMV) and State Farm Insurance.
“We’re excited for teens across the commonwealth to join us at JMU for the 2024 YOVASO Summer Leadership Retreat,” YOVASO’s Program Manager Mary King said. “The retreat provides a fun and educational experience for all teens, whether they are looking to be safer drivers, learn leadership skills, get involved in community service opportunities or prepare for future careers.”
The annual leadership retreat is held on the JMU campus in Harrisonburg, from July 11 through July 14, 2024. More than 170 students and adult leaders are registered to attend. The four-day experience will prepare teens to work in peer-to-peer programs in their schools or through community youth groups to promote safe teen driving and help prevent motor vehicle crashes among teens.
Highlights will include motivational speaker and performing artist, Shaun Derik on “Speaking is Easy, But Saying Something is The H.A.R.D. Part;” a behind-the-wheel defensive driver training experience with B.R.A.K.E.S.; a multi-media trivia game show with TjohnE; and workshops on public speaking and the power of advocacy. Teens will also participate in interactive safety experiences by the Virginia Department of Transportation on work zone safety; Operation Lifesaver, Inc. on railroad safety; DRIVE SMART Virginia on the dangers of impaired driving with a virtual simulator; Harrisonburg Police Department on seat belt safety with a seat belt simulator; VSP’s Crash Reconstruction Team, K-9 Unit, and Distracted Driving Simulators; and more. Teens will enjoy a variety of interactive, team-building social events, to include a glow stick game, talent show, pajama night with music provide by a D.J., and the Amazing Race, “Space” style.
The four-day, three-night retreat will conclude with an awards banquet to recognize students, schools, youth groups, law enforcement, community members and business partners for their dedicated and outstanding efforts during the 2023-2024 school year to prevent teen-related traffic crashes and fatalities on Virginia highways.
YOVASO, Virginia’s Peer-to-Peer Education and Prevention Program for Teen Driver and Passenger Safety, is a program of VSP and is funded by highway safety grants from the Virginia DMV. Program membership is free and open to all Virginia high schools, middle schools and youth groups. YOVASO has 130 participating schools and youth groups.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.