Our project consisted of a photo and slogan exhibition, interactive awareness-raising presentations, simulated driving activities, a traffic-sign mural and proposals for safe access to and from our school.
1. We started with a shower of ideas in class, where we had a look at the resources Renault provides teachers and students on the different aspects of road safety and mobility. We thought about the main problems people face on the roads here, on Gran Canaria, and divided the areas into: drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. We came up with many different ideas for an awareness raising campaign but decided to concentrate on educating the next generation. As we are students doing an International Baccalaureate, we have a slogan, "Think globally, Act locally". We decided to use this idea in our project by thinking about the global aspects of road safety and how we could act locally in our school to make people more aware, and aimed to get the students have an impact on their parents.
2. We decided to split into work groups to further debate which ideas would be best for our campaign at school. We realised that each year group (Lower Primary, Upper Primary, and Secondary) would need an awareness-raising focus suitable to their age as each group is different and has different needs. Initially, we liked the following ideas: for secondary and older, a photo exhibition with catchy phrases that would make people think; an instructive play about road safety for primary students; and a safe access plan for pedestrians and cyclists, as the access to our school is quite dangerous.
However, once we started thinking about the logistics of these ideas we decided to modify them slightly and changed the plan to three different activities. The one for lower primary consisted of explaining the meaning of road signs to the students and then they would paint a mural with their interpretation of a safe road environment and include their own signs. The plan for upper primary consisted of students being split into groups, with one of us as a leader to explain and present different aspects of road safety to them, and then take them on a pretend drive on the roads we created around the school with their different traffic signals and signs. Finally, we would have a series of presentations on road safety, with topics such as alcohol use etcetera, for upper secondary students that would make these soon-to-be drivers more aware when circulating on the roads.
3. When we had a good idea of what we wanted to do, we set about planning our project, getting permission for our plan and preparing the materials we needed.
We decided on the following ideas:
a) A photo exhibition for awareness raising (for the whole school community, including parents)
b) An awareness raising presentations on road safety for relatively soon-to-be drivers and cyclists (upper secondary)
c) A pretend driving circuit on made up roads with our own homemade signs and signals (upper primary)
d) A painted mural with the students' interpretation of a safe environment they’d like to see when walking and cycling in their neighbourhood (lower primary)
e) Suggestions for better access to school by car, bus, when cycling or walking and awareness raising about possible, dangerous hotspots (to be presented to the Head Master).
To carry out the initiatives we needed to consider two main points: who did we need to talk to get permission and what materials we would need for the different activities.
We contacted the tutors of the classes concerned and we also consulted our coordinator and the school management to check for any problems in carrying out our projects. Together with the tutors and the coordinators, we set the dates for the activities and then we started organising what materials we would need. (Details of our initiatives are provided under the activity headings.)
a) Thought provoking Photo Exhibition - aimed at the whole school community, including parents, in order to make people think twice about their actions while circulating on the roads.
For the Photo Exhibition we made posters with eye-catching photos and thought provoking phrases and slogans. We then got the posters laminated. The aim of this part of the campaign would be to make people think about the consequences of their actions and about common situations when on the road.
When the day came, we hung the posters up in the central entrance to our school where they would be seen by the whole school community and, in particular, by parents picking up their children. We initially thought that only the teachers, the rest of the staff and the parents would stop to have a look and read them but in fact a lot of students also stopped by and read our posters, which was very positive. Many parents and teachers also told us that they had really liked the initiative and asked us how we came up with the idea. We really feel that this part of the project worked well, even better than expected, and it certainly made people think about different aspects of road safety.
b) Presentations on Road Safety - aimed at upper secondary students to make them more aware of proper behaviour while driving and to be aware of dangers such as drunk driving.
We created a presentation that would be thought provoking and interesting for these students. We also decided to make it interactive; the audience would be asked and consulted, as well as instructed by the information we would provide. The aim of this activity was to make these teenagers more aware about road safety, especially since in just a year or two some of them will be getting their driving license. The aim was also to make them aware of the dangers that they have to take into consideration even before driving themselves, such as getting a ride with someone who has consumed alcohol. We had to do a lot of research for this part as we are not yet drivers either, so it was instructive for us as well. As the audience on this occasion was very similar to us in age, we were a bit nervous at first, but it turned out that they really participated and enjoyed the presentations, something that made us feel very pleased. Some of them even came up to us afterwards and continued to ask questions or tell us that they had enjoyed the presentations and that they thought it was a very important topic.
c) Simulated Driving Circuit - aimed at upper primary students in order to make sure they know the meaning of traffic signals and lights and how to behave on the roads in order to stay safe.
We made signs and signals by sticking laminated posters with traffic signs on poles, which we had previously painted, to display around our pretend roads. Initially we thought of drawing the roads with chalk on the playground but since the school administration did not like this idea very much, we had to reconsider and instead decided to use the corridors and paths that we have between the playgrounds and classrooms as roads, which worked very well. The research we had done for the presentations came in handy for the briefing part. We decided on a specific route for the activity so each one of us already knew what signs we would encounter while driving.
On the actual day, the activity turned out really well and our young ‘drivers’ enjoyed themselves while pretending to be driving around the school and having to respect the signs and the rules of circulation. We also had prepared a pretend driving wheel out of cardboard so they could simulate the feeling of having to drive even more. The students really enjoyed this activity and we were pleasantly surprised that many of them already knew some of the signs and rules.
d) Painted Road Safety Mural - aimed at lower primary students to make them aware of the meaning of traffic signals and lights and to have them reflect on what kind of environment they wanted in their neighbourhood regarding traffic and road safety.
The mural was done with a large group of younger students and involved painting. We covered the floor in the assembly hall and got hold of large cardboard that we covered with white craft paper, and had enough paintbrushes, crayons and felt tips for all the children who were to take part. As the students are only around seven years old, not many knew the signs, so the activity added to their knowledge. This activity did not turn out exactly as we had intended initially, but in a way it turned out better as the students were very creative with their drawings of different signs and we got a peek into how they see their environment. We had a lot of students wanting to repeat this activity another day and, as they left the assembly hall, they were pointing to the traffic signs and remembering what they meant.
e) Suggestions for safer access to school – aimed at the school to provide ideas for improvement and make the management aware of potential danger zones.
Even when we had to modify the project slightly due to our academic workload, we carried out the analysis by taking turns to observe the problem zones during the morning arrival and afternoon dismissal. We decided to focus on how the parking could be improved by using better signaling to make it less frustrating for drivers and safer for pedestrians and cyclists. Clearer rules would also be needed on how to behave when dropping off and picking up students and the road would have to be widened, as it is difficult to fit cars in either direction along with pedestrians, without the pedestrians running the risk of being run over. We came up with a list of suggestions for improvement that we presented to the management; they consider many of the points valid enough to think about in future Board Meetings.
In general, we feel that this project was very worthwhile as we had an impact on our fellow students' way of thinking about road safety and we planted little seeds of consciousness in the minds of the younger students. The exhibition made people think about important issues and we hope that the school board will consider our suggestions to make our school environment safer. We really think that we met our objectives and as a whole we feel that the project was a success. It definitely made all of us more aware of many aspects related to road safety and mobility.