The Bourbon County SAFE (Seatbelts are for everyone) program at Uniontown High School received financial support from Mercy Hospital Fort Scott on Tuesday, March 27. The funds are used to purchase gift cards for students who pledge to wear seatbelts while in a motor vehicle as a driver or passenger.
Initiated in the 2010-2011 school year, the Uniontown High School SAFE student leadership team reported a 24 percent increase in seatbelt usage among students by the end of the school year. The student leadership team takes an observed assessment and calculates the number of students wearing seatbelts as they enter or exit school property. The assessment is unannounced. The baseline report in fall 2010 reported only 62 percent of UHS students were wearing seatbelts yet by the final survey in late spring 2011, 86 percent were utilizing seatbelts.
“We have seen positive results from last year’s effort flow into this school year,” said Ashley Nietfeld, UHS Senior and SAFE student spokesperson. “We assess seatbelt usage three times during the school year, and the first assessment of this year showed the work done last year made an impression on our student body.”
“This year we still plan host a dress-up day when students who have the most creative or original outfit to promote seatbelt usage will be rewarded with prizes,” Neitfeld added
Pledge cards with student’s signatures who agree to wear seatbelts whether as a driver or passenger are placed into monthly drawings. The prize is typically a $25 gift card, but the final drawing for this school year will be an iPod touch.
Exactly 50 percent of Uniontown’s 146 High School students have signed a pledge card for the 2011-2012 school year.
“The SAFE program is an avenue to create awareness, and the result of the awareness has proven to be valuable,” shared Randy Rockhold, USD 235 Superintendent and UHS Principal. “We have amazing young adults at Uniontown High School and they are constantly striving to improve and gain knowledge. Our students are making greater efforts to be safe when they are driving.”
“Our survey data proves that a greater percentage of our students are wearing seatbelts,” Rockhold shared. “It is exciting to see our students make healthy and safe choices that will increase their chance of making a positive difference in the world they live.”
Fort Scott High School also participates in the SAFE program and has seen an increase in seatbelt usage among the student body as well.
Combining both Uniontown and Fort Scott High School data, Bourbon County ranks seventh in the state of Kansas for seatbelt usage among high school students at 86 percent. According to the 2010 – 2011 SAFE report, Bourbon County public high schools saw the sixth largest increase in seatbelt usage of schools participating in the program.
“What's great about the program is it's the students program, ran by the students,” explained Master Trooper Jeff Scott of the Kansas Highway Patrol. “We have a SAFE team that has two students from each grade represented. This team has set a great example and shown great leadership to their peers. These students know the importance of buckling up, not only to keep them safer if their involved in a crash but also by complying with the state law. They not only impact other students but also their families, friends and another people they interact with on a daily basis.”
“This example helps other students, who help others and you have a domino effect,” Scott continued. “Remember we never plan on getting in a crash and most crashes occur in a close proximately to home where we are familiar with the roads.”
“The SAFE program relies entirely on donations and sponsors,” added Scott. “Without them the program could not operate. The money that the sponsor's donate is all given back to the students that are successful in the monthly drawings, safety contests and a grand prize at the end of the year.”
“Mercy takes pride in supporting a program that encourages safe practices among our teens and helps to prevent injury to the people we care for in the communities we serve,” commented Reta Baker, Mercy Hospital president.
“This is the second year Mercy has supported the SAFE program at both public schools in Bourbon County. The first year’s results were so impressive; it was obvious to reward the great work once again.”
Rockhold commended the Kansas Highway Patrol and Mercy Hospital for supporting the program.
“Thank you for the financial resources to fund the program and taking the time to provide a great service to our students. It’s nice for our students to see businesses and individuals give back to their community and take an interest in our youths’ safety and well-being.”
Mercy is the eighth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 31 hospitals, more than 200 outpatient facilities, 38,000 co-workers and 1,500 integrated physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. For more about Mercy, visit www.mercy.net.