Pro­gram ‘drives home’ road safety mes­sage

The Free Press (Corowa) - - FRONT PAGE -

The road safety mes­sage hit home for Corowa, Ruther­glen and St Paul’s High School stu­dents and mem­bers of the com­mu­nity at­tend­ing the re­cent Cool Heads pro­gram.

The highly suc­cess­ful pro­gram was pre­sented on Tues­day, March 20 at the Ruther­glen Memo­rial Hall to an au­di­ence of about 120, with stu­dents leav­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion re­al­is­ing that road ac­ci­dents have far reach­ing ef­fects.

Deb­bie Fil­liponi, who is on the wel­fare com­mit­tee at Corowa High School, said the pro­gram came about seven years ago af­ter Ruther­glen Po­lice saw a need to pro­mote more aware­ness of road safety among the many stu­dents who are learn­ing to drive.

“We build on this pre­sen­ta­tion ev­ery year and have great guest speak­ers who re­ally drive the road safety mes­sage home,” she said.

The con­se­quences of road trauma were high­lighted to stu­dents through the per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences shared with them by guest speak­ers from Beech­worth Cor­rec­tional Cen­tre.

“It’s im­por­tant that stu­dents hear first­hand the con­se­quences and re­alise that road ac­ci­dents carry con­se­quences from po­lice and 20 years can be the penalty for cul­pa­ble driv­ing,” Deb­bie said.

“We also have po­lice here to speak and show some hor­rific pho­tos from car crashes with the in­tent to hit home the re­al­ity.

“We have a school coun­sel­lor come along who is there for the stu­dents post pre­sen­ta­tion be­cause there are some ex­am­ples used in the pre­sen­ta­tion that are from the com­mu­nity in­clud­ing Brooke Richard­son who was an ex-Corowa High School stu­dent.”

The road safety mes­sage was fur­ther im­pressed upon the young driv­ers with per­sonal ac­counts from emer­gency ser­vice work­ers, a car ac­ci­dent sur­vivor and Vicki Richard­son, whose daugh­ter was killed in a crash while tex­ting.

Lo­cal woman Ros­alia Cikaitoga gave an emo­tional and gut-wrench­ing ac­count of her ex­pe­ri­ence when she hit on­com­ing traf­fic af­ter the sun got in her eyes while driv­ing at Woor­agee about five years ago, killing an­other driver and se­ri­ously in­jur­ing her­self.

Ros­alia re­cov­ered from her in­juries but she still suf­fers from post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der, de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety.

The pre­sen­ta­tion had an ob­vi­ous im­pact on those at­tend­ing.

“Loved it and I think ev­ery­one that drives needs to hear it”, “Very de­tailed – need more of these”, “Very real; great way to ed­u­cate youth on the con­se­quences”, “Amaz­ing, thankyou”, were just some of the many com­ments made by the stu­dents.

The Cool Heads com­mit­tee were ex­tremely for­tu­nate to have the as­sis­tance of many com­mu­nity groups and busi­nesses and would like to sin­cerely thank them for the part they played.

The pre­sen­ta­tion was proudly sup­ported by Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil, In­digo Shire Coun­cil, Ruther­glen Neigh­bour­hood Watch, the Don’t Txt’n’Drive Foun­da­tion, Canns and Jaspers bus lines, Trans­port NSW, Com­plete Body Craft, Arts Ruther­glen, Ruther­glen Po­lice and Corowa and Ruther­glen High Schools.

The com­mit­tee also ex­tend their thanks to the pre­sen­ters for shar­ing their per­sonal sto­ries.

Preparations are al­ready un­der­way for next year’s Cool Heads pre­sen­ta­tion.

The com­mit­tee plans to en­sure that all new young driv­ers are made aware of the far reach­ing ef­fects a car ac­ci­dent can have on those in­volved.

Corowa High School Year 11 stu­dent Sarah Hughes, 16, (look­ing to­wards the cam­era) pic­tured with fel­low stu­dents in­spect­ing a car wreck as part of the Cool Heads road safety pro­gram.

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