With the hopes of sparing their friends and family from harm, a new club at Farmington High School is spearheading an effort to make sure everyone “Arrives Alive.”
Team Spirit, a group comprised mostly of Farmington High School juniors, has joined efforts with the school’s AFJROTC program, in heading an awareness campaign in an effort to get their fellow Knights and members of their community to wear their seat belts at all time.
“It’s really important for people to start wearing seat belts whenever they get into the car,” said Farmington High School Junior Allison Pingel. “Just by putting your seat belt on, you can save your life.”
To convey the importance of seat belt use, the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety implements the “It Only Takes One” program to focus on high school seat belt use rates. Seat belt usage is checked before and after the campaign, with special recognition going to the schools with the highest rate of usage in each of the districts.
In the past, the school’s AFJROTC program has taken it upon themselves to lead the program, but partnering with Team Spirit will allow for more participation in the school.
“It used to be the only ones who participated in the program were members of the ROTC,” said Lindsey Albee, an instructor at Farmington and Team Spirit club sponsor. “I spoke with Lt. Col. Stephen Wenninger and we thought joining the two groups together would help reach more of our students.”
According to Albee, the students take surveys of students wearing seat belts by standing at various parking lots at the school and tallying the number of students who are wearing seat belts versus those who are not as they come to school.
“We usually get to school around 7 a.m. and begin marking those who are wearing their seat belts as they arrive to school,” Albee said. “They do the same thing about 2 months later and compare the number of students wearing seat belts at the end of campaign. Hopefully more students are wearing seat belts at the end.”
The school that has the highest percentage of student of wearing their seat belts at the end of the campaign will be awarded grant money to make a PSA video about the importance of wearing seat belts. A total of 30 schools in Southeast Missouri are participating in the program.
The club’s first step in promoting its campaign was by hosting an “Arrive Alive Knight” at the Jan. 12 Farmington versus DeSoto basketball games. If the students took a picture of themselves wearing their seat belt, they were able to get into the game for free.
Additionally, Team Spirit was conducting an informal survey as people entered the school. Those who said they wore their seat belts received Smarties candy.
During half-time, members of Team Spirit were passing out free bleacher cushions, t-shirts and other items with information on “Arrive Alive” and “It Only Takes One” campaign.
“We hope this campaign will make more students think about wearing their seat belts,” Albee said. “Part of the problem is most students think nothing will ever happen to them.”
Although the campaign is designed to promote safety and to save lives by wearing seat belts, for many of the students it is much more personal.
“We all know too many people who have been in car accidents, some of them were our classmates,” said Taylor Reeves, a member of Team Spirit. “Many times, it wasn’t good.”
The students involved in the program are hoping to continue their public service project even after the campaign is over. According to Albee, a few of the students involved will join other students from Southeast Missouri in Cape Girardeau in July for a three-day conference designed to empower youth to take an active role in promoting safe driving habits, and preventing impaired driving from alcohol and other drug use.
The club members are aware they cannot get every person to wear a seat belt, but they know if only one life is saved, then all of their hard work paid off.
Craig Vaughn is a reporter for the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-518-3629 or at email@example.com