[1 MB, 12 pgs.]
Winter 2010 | Vol. 12 | No. 3
Engaging Youth in Highway Safety Efforts
By Sandra Spavone
Executive Director, NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS FOR YOUTH SAFETY
National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) is a coalition of national organizations, business and industry leaders, and federal partners that focus on youth health and safety. Our mission is to promote youth leadership and build partnerships that save lives, prevent injuries and enhance safe and healthy lifestyles among all youth. The foundation of our work is youth empowerment.
In 2007, in cooperation with NHTSA and the United Nations Global Road Safety Week, NOYS youth launched what is now an annual campaign called National Youth Traffic Safety Month. This campaign is held each May in conjunction with prom, graduation,and the beginning of the summer driving season. 2010 will be the 4th year of this campaign.
NOYS works to coordinate youth-led community efforts to support legislation, increase enforcement, and provide education on youth traffic safety issues. Through sponsorship from The Allstate Foundation, NOYS is able to offer over over $140,000 in prizes and awards in addition to other contests and programs for youth leaders.
NOYS is partnering with GHSA to raise the level of the youth led projects by connecting state highway safety offices to the youth in their state working to address youth traffic safety.
NOYS encourages all state highway safety offices and other adult leaders to make youth an intregal part of their programs. Development of youth/adult partnerships is a key strategy in improving highway safety. This partnership is essential for empowering youth leaders and preparing them with the programatic tools, expertise and knowledge necessary to successfully implement their peer-to-peer education, legislative advocacy and increased enforcement efforts.
Research shows that peer-to-peer education carries additional credibility and can be critical in establishing and promoting positive social norms. Teens can help shape messages to appeal to a teen audience. Youth attract media attention to events and campaigns. Young people are compelling advocates for policy and legislative initiatives. This network will serve as the states’ ally in delivering their messaging to families, schools and communities, mobilizing turnout for public events and campaigns.
Some keys for a successful youth/adult partnership include:
- Connect to youth at the onset. Too often we hear that groups want to design the program and then bring youth in to provide feedback. That type of planning not only lengthens the process, but it also contributes to the lack of youth ownership because they were not part of the plan from the beginning.
- Promote an open atmosphere for youth to share ideas and help them translate ideas into action. To accomplish this, successful youth/adult partnerships reach out to each other and work to hear new ways to try efforts together. If an idea is presented that has obastacles, discuss the obstacles and work out ways to accomplish the plan by overcoming those obstacles.
- Promote ownership by all partners. Successful youth/adult partnerships give everyone a voice, allow open communication throughout the entire process, and promote the opportunity of working through complications.
Many state highway safety offices are already actively involved in engaging youth in their teen driver safety efforts. The youth share with us how you have supported them with information, tools, and knowledge. If your state is not connected to youth, reach out to them now—most just need to be asked. NOYS can assist in connecting to youth in your state who are working on traffic safety efforts or who want to start new efforts.