Lebanon has a terrible record for traffic accidents, but the students at the Jesus and Mary School don’t get discouraged. They get to work - one road at a time!
7 students from the 10th grade of the Jesus and Mary School in Lebanon found that road safety in their country is the worst in the Arab world. One third of victims are pedestrians, with more than 172 killed and 1,900 injured in 2011. The country presents lots of big challenges for road safety, so the students knew they’d have to take one step at a time. They decided to get started by improving roads near schools and making changes to help students cross the road more safely.
As their first target, they chose Antelias Road in front of Antelias Public School, one of the most dangerous crossings in the area. But before making this decision, the students conducted an in-depth analysis of the road safety situation in their community and in their country and drew some powerful conclusions that helped them design their initiative.
First of all, they found that the government was not doing enough for road safety, so they chose instead to collaborate with NGOs to raise awareness and take action. They also decided it would be necessary to partner with local companies in order to lobby successfully. Finally, they determined that involving students and the general public through media campaigns could be the most effective way to raise awareness and get results.
The Road Safety Challenge Team 2013 from the Jesus and Mary School did a lot of planning, and it all paid off!
The Team had a lot to accomplish, so they decided they would partner with Kunhadi, an organization for youth awareness of road safety in Lebanon. Then they went on to their first big goal - getting a much safer pedestrian crossing at Antelias Public School.
They created a list of the changes that needed to be made to improve road conditions around Antelias Public School, which included a ‘SCHOOL’ sign, a speed limit sign (20km), a zebra crossing, and two lines of ‘cat eye’ reflectors. The team will also give awareness sessions to all of the students at Antelias Public School, and eventually at all of the schools in the area.
The total budget for the project was $5000. Not a small amount of money, but the Road Safety Challenge Team found their sponsors (First National Bank of Lebanon, Kfoury Engineering, and car dealer Auto W.Francis) – after a lot of hard work!
Now that the Team had the plan and the money to carry it out, it was time to contact reporters and journalists to start their media campaign. They also promoted the project through social media such as Facebook and YouTube. This publicity earned them the public support necessary to go to the appropriate local authorities for getting the approval to put their plans into action. It also provided them with a great opportunity to invite their peers across Lebanon to take action in developing similar plans to reduce the number of car accidents.
The media campaign was a great success, with the project being presented on three highly rated talk shows, in two newspapers and on three radio stations, reaching all of Lebanon and even beyond into the Arab world.
The overall project was also a success - the Antelias pedestrian crossing has become a reality in early May! Pedestrians all over Lebanon, and especially the students at Antelias Public School, are very thankful to the team for the crossing and, most of all, for showing how big a role each individual has in making changes that can help our communities and save lives.