Buckle up for safety

Rap music, YouTube and classic competitive spirit combined to fuel the Safe Kids Buckle Up Virtual Video Showdown. The online safety video competition, created by the public relations students of UGA’s Public Relations Student Society of America Bateman team, accumulated more than 2,000 hits in five days. Ashley Beebe, Jarek Beem, Abby Blaylock, Audrey Califf and Sydney Carroll worked with Safe Kids Athens Area to help the students of W.R. Coile Middle School remind each other why it is important to buckle up every time. The competition was designed to empower children to make responsible decisions independently and involve them in the process of spreading vehicle safety messages. The program emphasized that tweens are role models for their peers and younger siblings and reminded them that children under the age of 13 are safest in the back seat of a car.

The Showdown pitted sixth against seventh grade, with a reward promised to the team whose video attracted the most attention on YouTube and its counterpart, TeacherTube. The seventh grade prevailed with 1,101 views to the sixth grade’s 1,028. UGA football player Kris Durham signed autographs and posed for pictures with the winning class on Feb. 25, while the students indulged in cupcakes and candy.

The Bateman case study competition challenged teams from all over the U.S. to create a public relations campaign that reached kids ages 11-14 with the Safe Kids Buckle Up safety messages. “We could have lectured to middle schoolers or made the video ourselves, but we found that tweens were much more likely to listen to each other than anyone else,” said Califf. “YouTube made it possible for the kids to share the videos with their friends and families, passing the message around Athens.”

The UGA team also targeted parents in its campaign by creating a Web site for Safe Kids Athens Area with information about how to talk to tweens about vehicle safety and making presentations at several middle schools’ PTO meetings and at ESL classes.

Last year’s UGA team beat out 63 other teams, winning the competition with their campaign for Family Caregiving 101. This year the team will submit their project at the end of March and wait to hear if it will be selected in the top three. If so, the students will travel to Detroit to present to representatives of Safe Kids USA and Chevrolet, the national sponsor of Safe Kids Buckle Up.

Safe Kids Athens Area is dedicated to preventing accidental injury through education about vehicle, fire and burn, pedestrian, poison and bike safety. The coalition coordinator, Evelyn Haynes, is a R.N. at Athens Regional Medical Center, the agency of the coalition. While Safe Kids Athens Area gets some funding from Safe Kids USA, the majority of its donations come from local individuals and businesses. Safe Kids Buckle Up’s mission is to prevent childhood injury in and around motor vehicles, which is particularly important because car accidents are the number one killer of children ages 3-14.