Acampaigning pair of primary school children who know the importance of wearing cycling helmets and bright clothing to prevent serious accidents represented their school at a major road safety event.
Whiteley Primary’s Oliver Thompson, nine, and Bethany Vartan, 10, were among hundreds of nine to 11-year-olds who took part in a special Junior Road Safety Officers’ training day at the Botley Park Hotel near Hedge End.
They were involved in a range of activities to give them ideas of how to bring the subject of road safety to life, which ranged from scripting and recording radio adverts and designing T-shirts with powerful slogans.
Oliver, whose T-shirt read ‘always be bright – not just at night’, says: ‘It was a really good event. We got lots of tips about how to raise awareness about road safety including a non-uniform day with luminous and reflective clothing and a fashion show with similar outfits.
‘It’s important to warn pupils about the dangers of cycling or walking to school.’
Bethany gave an example of what her school’s nine-strong JRSO team organised to raise awareness.
She says: ‘In one assembly we held up pictures of one of our teachers, who fell off their bike and cut their face badly. But it would have been a lot worse if they hadn’t been wearing a helmet.
‘We don’t want to scare people too much, but sometimes you need strong images and examples to get the message across.
‘When my auntie was eight she was hit by a car that was on the wrong side of the road and cracked her head open. People need to be more aware of their surroundings.’
At Whiteley Primary, more than three-quarters of pupils walk or cycle to school.
Lesley Pennington, headteacher, says: ‘As a school safety is very important, particularly as we encourage our pupils to walk and cycle into school.
‘We are fortunate to have great cycle paths and walkways, but crossing roads is still dangerous.
‘Our road safety team is invaluable – often children listen to their peers and, if they stand up in assembly, their voices are heard.’