To reach a wider community achieve maximum impact on saving lives, the Road Safety Guardian's campaign includes a brochure social networking space containing videos, interactive games road safety ideas reaching thousands of people.
This is the second time the SSES Road Safety Guardians have participated in the 'Your Ideas Your Initiatives’ international challenge competition and although last years entry was a success on an in-school scale reaching our younger students, we realised that the road safety topic needed to reach the wider community and very importantly, the families in our community.
Road safety remains an untouched topic in many of the schools in China and how people behave on the roads is a very serious issue, not just here in Shanghai but all the way across China. Seeing people behaving badly on the roads is a far too common sight, with many of the road safety laws not being enforced, a culture of turning a blind eye to road traffic offenders, and a general view that traffic violations and safety issues such as running red lights (even if it appears safe to do so) are perceived as 'minor' and 'unimportant' when in fact they are very serious indeed. As you can see in our video, when interviewing our primary school students it became evident that many of these offenders are the parents of the children we study with; and so we, the SSES Road Safety Guardians discussed ‘What are we actually teaching others about road safety’.
Knowing the current situation in China and that road safety is being ignored and underestimated, we designed a campaign that not only kept the topic of road safety alive at our school, but also reached the wider community. This was the main focus in our first brainstorming sessions, and we decided that social networking was the best way to reach out to hundreds if not thousands of people in Shanghai and surrounding areas.
Despite many world famous social networking platforms such as Facebook being unavailable in China, social networking is huge here and you would be hard pushed to find anyone in Shanghai or across China who is not using WeChat - China's most famous social networking app which has over 600 million users, 70 million of which are outside of China. We decided this was the best way to get our message out there and let others know the importance of road safety and how to best teach 'our' children how to be safe on the roads. Therefore, the initial targets of our current campaign have been the primary school students within our international division, and their parents, in the hope that they would 'like' and 'share' our social networking space with others to help maximise its impact.
With this being our goal, we designed a fun and interactive WeChat account which not only our local community can subscribe to, but they can also use it to educate their families and those people around them about road safety. We designed three main components for this year’s campaign.
1. A WeChat social networking page which gains momentum in 'followers' through 'likes' and 'shares'
2. Interactive games integrated into the WeChat page which children can play and learn about road safety
3. A brochure and a video used to market our initiative to our local community and get them and others involved in learning about road safety.
With sixteen members on our team and the guidance of our experienced road safety campaign teachers, Colin and Rob, we formed three groups; each responsible for a different part of making this campaign a success.
1. A Research and Development Group - responsible for gathering information on traffic rules in China and advice on being safe on the roads.
2. A Marketing Group - responsible for getting our message out there in the best ways possible
3. The Video and Game Development Group - responsible for keeping our social network page fun, interesting and educational.
Using the WeChat social networking app, we started an official account for our campaign. This enables our team to push feeds to subscribers, interact with subscribers and provide them with services so they can learn about road safety. Our game, which was inspired by a game called ‘Lifeline,’ is integrated into the WeChat account; it is about an alien called Andy who comes from a planet which has very serious road safety issues. Andy is visiting Earth to learn how to be safe on the roads so when he returns to his own planet, he can teach others how to be safe on the roads. The subscribers or followers of our WeChat page read a story in which choices need to be made by the players about road safety, and try to keep Andy safe and sound while he is on Earth. Each choice will lead to different developments in the game and players can go back to alter any choice they made incorrectly. The players enter the choices and receive automated responses. After playing the game, the players (the families within our social network community) are able to gain knowledge about how to be safe such as: walking on the sidewalks, how to ride bikes safely, and how to cross the road safely. We hope that, through this game, children will learn about road safety, teach others how to be safe on the roads, and even encourage their parents to behave safely on the roads. We also hope that they will enjoy the game and share it with others. So far we have played the game with the primary division at our school and released it to our social networking followers; they loved playing the game and we had a great response from parents and families within our community.
The brochure was aimed at getting the social network and game out to the areas of our community which maybe are not part of our school, but to whom we could also get involved in road safety. It gives information about our game, how to subscribe to our social network, encourages others to get involved in road safety, promotes our campaign, and it provides a short quiz to encourage learning about road safety outside of the classroom. We gave the brochure to our primary school students to take home and asked parents to help them with the quiz and share it with other families in the area. The answers to the quiz are also included in the brochure. We printed 600 brochures and we plan to send them to other schools so that they might invite us there to have day of road safety learning with their students, get them to subscribe to our account, or just get them talking about road safety within their school.
Once we developed our social networking space, we noticed that it is being used by a range of people, including those who are outside China, some who are not so technologically minded, and others who may not understand exactly how our game and social network space works; so we have been making videos to make our social network space more accessible. The videos show people how to download WeChat, how the game works, and how they can get involved in our social networking community. We have also been working on English and Chinese versions of the game, as well as providing information bilingually so we can target families and other communities around the world and promote our campaign on other social networking sights, such as Twitter and Facebook.
Parts of the videos also introduce our campaign and explain and show the work with our primary school students; they also contain interviews with staff and students about our campaign. We wanted to find out how much our community already knows about road safety and get as many people talking about the project as possible. Getting feedback from our staff and students, both before and after we made some initiatives, also helped us to reflect on how we can develop the project to improve its functions and accessibility. We really hope that when people watch our videos, it will inspire them to get involved with our campaign and help save lives.
So far we have 101 likes, 682 subscribers, 2,762 page views, and the numbers are still growing. We will continue to maintain the social network for our community project (C.A.S Community, Action and Service) we must do for our course, and we will continue to update and maintain the page for as long as we have subscribers.