Two area high schools have been recognized by this year’s “It Only Takes One” campaign — an anti-unsafe driving habits competition.
More than 100 schools across the state participated in this year’s “challenge to educate their peers and community about the importance of always buckling up and never driving distracted or impaired,” according to a news release from the Missouri Department of Transportation.
Calvary Lutheran High School and Fatima High School were among the schools singularly recognized for the efforts of their students and staff.
Schools part of “It Only Takes One” had to do two surprise seat belt checks to measure students’ seat belt use before and after an educational campaign.
Calvary and Fatima were among the 14 schools to win “the educational award for implementing very impactful and creative school and community outreach activities,” according to the MoDOT news release.
“I think you ought to be checking every day,” said Denise Crider, a social studies and practical arts teacher at Calvary. She was in charge of the “It Only Takes One” efforts and is the school’s Students Against Destructive Decisions sponsor.
She said she’s out in Calvary’s parking lot most days checking on students’ seat belt use.
“After school, I’m out in the parking lot doing a seat belt check. We pass out information or little treats if kids are buckled up,” she said.
In addition to being one of 14 schools recognized for its educational campaign, Calvary also was one of 10 schools to receive a gold, silver or bronze designation for the percentage of its students who use seat belts. Calvary got gold, meaning 99-100 percent of its students wore their seat belts during the two checks as part of the campaign.
Crider said that achievement is not so difficult when students already are conscientious about it.
She said the school has done a variety of activities to educate students and parents about safety behind the wheel. They’ve passed out “adult-teen driving contracts” to have students give their family information about what to do and not do if they’re late coming home.
The school has shared information about the state’s graduated license law, participated in Council for Drug Free Youth activities to prevent drunk driving, and has hosted a speaker who suffered traumatic brain injuries from car crashes, she said.
Fatima Elementary School nurse Wanda Rehagen described similar efforts in her district. Rehagen also is a SADD sponsor.
“We didn’t really create a lot of new stuff,” she said, but Fatima took advantage of resources already available. They also had informational event for parents to learn about the state’s graduated driver’s license program. A freshman orientation involved teaching incoming ninth-graders about traffic safety. A band came and presented a message about safety.
Fatima hosted a town hall meeting in conjunction with the Osage County Anti-Drug Community Action Team, she said, and there are offerings through the Council for Drug Free Youth.
Fatima also sent a group of students to the TRACTION driving safety conference in Columbia last summer, she said.
“We’re proud of our local schools for showing a commitment to always buckling up and never driving distracted or impaired,” Kacey Buschjost, statewide coordinator for “It Only Takes One,” said in MoDOT’s news release.
“Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for people 15-20 years old. Results of a 2016 survey among Missouri teens indicate 34 percent of teens are not wearing their seat belt, putting them at greater risk to get killed or injured in traffic crashes. Seven out of (every) 10 teens killed in Missouri traffic crashes are unbuckled,” according to the news release.
More information about the campaign is available at saveMOlives.com.