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Virginia teens train to become leaders for driver and passenger safety

Crystal Graham
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More than 80 Virginia teens representing schools and youth groups from across the Commonwealth arrived at James Madison University in Harrisonburg today for the 2022 Youth of Virginia Speak Out About Traffic Safety summer leadership retreat.

The annual leadership retreat is being held on the JMU campus through July 17. More than 120 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.

“YOVASO Safari: Leading the Pack for Safe Teen Driving” 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 YOVASO, Virginia State Police, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and State Farm Insurance.

Highlights for the retreat include:

  • Motivational speaker, Fletcher Cleaves on “The Sky is Not the Limit”
  • A live simulated crash and mock trauma bay presented by VCU Health’s Project IMPACT
  • A multi-media TjohnE Trivia Game Show
  • Workshops on public speaking and the power of advocacy
  • Interactive safety experiences
  • Team-building events including a glow stick game, talent show, and the Amazing Race, “Safari” style

“We’re excited to be back in-person for YOVASO’s Summer Leadership Retreat after not being able to meet for two years,” said Molly Jackson, retreat director. “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 four-day, three-night retreat concludes with an awards banquet to recognize students, schools, youth groups, and law enforcement, for their dedicated and outstanding efforts during the 2021-2022 school year to prevent teen-related traffic crashes and fatalities on Virginia highways.

Students from the following schools and youth groups are registered to participate in the 2022 YOVASO Summer Leadership Retreat:

  • Admiral Byrd Middle School, Frederick Co.
  • Robert E. Aylor Middle School, Frederick Co.
  • Benton Middle School, Prince William Co.
  • Bluestone High School, Mecklenburg Co.
  • Carver College and Career Academy, Chesterfield Co.
  • CodeRVA Regional High School, Richmond City
  • Colgan High School, Prince William Co.
  • Eastern View High School, Culpeper Co.
  • Elijah House Academy, Richmond City
  • Franklin High School, Franklin City
  • Glen Allen High School, Henrico Co.
  • Gloucester County High School, Gloucester Co.
  • Grace Christian School, Staunton City
  • Graham High School, Tazewell Co.
  • Greensville County High School, Greensville Co.
  • Hanover High School, Hanover Co.
  • Henrico High School, Henrico Co.
  • Highland Springs High School, Henrico Co.
  • Hylton High School, Prince William Co.
  • James Monroe High School, Fredericksburg City
  • James River High School, Chesterfield Co.
  • Jefferson Forest High School, Bedford Co.
  • James Madison University, Harrisonburg City
  • Langley High School, Fairfax Co.
  • Liberty High School, Bedford Co.
  • Liberty University Online Academy, Lynchburg City
  • Lloyd C. Bird High School, Chesterfield Co.
  • Lord Botetourt High School, Botetourt Co.
  • Luray High School, Page Co.
  • Manor High School, Portsmouth City
  • Marshall Middle School, Fauquier Co.
  • Matoaca High School, Chesterfield Co.
  • Mechanicsville High School, Hanover Co.
  • Millbrook High School, Frederick Co.
  • Monacan High School, Chesterfield Co.
  • Mountain View High School, Stafford Co.
  • New Kent Middle School, New Kent Co.
  • Northside High School, Roanoke Co.
  • Park View High School, Mecklenburg Co.
  • Patrick Henry High School, Hanover Co.
  • Pearson Online Academy, Culpeper Co.
  • Prince George High School, Prince George Co.
  • REACH Homeschool Group, Spotsylvania Co.
  • Staunton River High School, Bedford Co.
  • Stuarts Draft High School, Augusta Co.
  • William Byrd High School, Roanoke Co.

YOVASO is Virginia’s peer-to-peer education and prevention program for teen driver and passenger safety. YOVASO 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 currently has 90 active member schools and youth groups.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.