Road safety mes­sage gets through

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KARO­LINE TUCKEY

Keep­ing kids safe on Porirua roads has sparked two in­no­va­tive road safety cam­paigns.

Maraeroa and Tairangi kinder­gartens, both in Can­nons Creek, each ap­proached Porirua City Coun­cil ear­lier this year with con­cerns about road safety. The Maraeroa Kinder­garten com­mu­nity was fac­ing in­creased traf­fic in its small road, while the Tairangi Kinder­garten com­mu­nity was re­spond­ing to an in­creas­ing num­ber of chil­dren walk­ing to and from kindy.

Both ar­eas had dif­fer­ent needs that would re­spond best to dif­fer­ent ap­proaches, says PCC road safety co-or­di­na­tor Mark Kairua. Af­ter work­ing with him on how to get the road safety mes­sage across to chil­dren as well as par­ents and driv­ers, each com­mu­nity has de­vel­oped its own road safety mes­sage.

‘‘ We’re alert­ing peo­ple that there are young chil­dren around and they are a lit­tle bit skit­tish and ex­cited some­times,’’ says Maraeroa head teacher Jeanne Ruther­ford.

Mr Kairua helped the preschool de­velop a show with a road safety mes­sage, de­liv­ered by a clown, as well as life-sized photo boards posted in the grounds.

‘‘We’ve had lots of com­ments from par­ents and peo­ple in the com­mu­nity: they [the boards] are all re­ally ef­fec­tive, they alert peo­ple to chil­dren be­ing present, and to slow­ing down,’’ she says.

One sign in par­tic­u­lar, of a young child by him­self on the pave­ment, has made many peo­ple dou­ble take, see­ing it as real at first glance.

Par­ents are re­port­ing that the mes­sage has been taught so well, chil­dren are com­ing home and pass­ing it on, Ms Ruther­ford says.

Tairangi Kinder­garten also re­ports suc­cess­ful re­sults from its cam­paign, and head teacher Andrew Allen is so im­pressed with the ideas he would like to see ed­u­ca­tion packs de­vel­oped for other kinder­gartens to use.

‘‘We were re­ally im­pressed with the knowl­edge that our chil­dren al­ready had, that you hold an adult’s hand and you stop and you look and you lis­ten,’’ Mr Allen says.

So they de­cided to ex­pand on that and learn about drive­ways, ze­bra cross­ings, dogs barking, rid­ing bikes and skate­boards on the foot­path, and what to do if a ball goes on to the road.

With Mr Kairua they de­vel­oped a road safety story-book fea­tur­ing pho­tos of a boy from the kindy on his morn­ing walk, high­light­ing the haz­ards on the trip. They also prac­tised road safety role plays, tak­ing chil­dren on walks around nearby ar­eas to prac­tise cross­ing safely and iden­tify haz­ards.

‘‘ It was re­ally ef­fec­tive, and what we’d re­ally like to see is the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion put a road safety kit to­gether for preschool­ers that early child­hood cen­tres can ac­cess,’’ Mr Allen says. ‘‘ We can pro­vide the ideas for a kit, but we re­ally need an agency of some sort to put the kit to­gether.

‘‘It needs to be an on­go­ing thing be­cause chil­dren are con­stantly chang­ing – you go out and prac­tise once a month at cross­ing the road or iden­ti­fy­ing the haz­ards on the walk to kindy.’’

Road safety is a con­tin­u­ous mes­sage, Mr Kairua says, and is im­por­tant for all peo­ple liv­ing and driv­ing in Porirua.

‘‘Ten years ago we were look­ing at about 20 or 22 kids in­jured a year, just in Porirua, and now with all the ini­tia­tives it’s down to sin­gle fig­ures, so it seems to be work­ing,’’ he says.

Photo: KRIS DANDO

Road safety: Teacher Ot­talie Holme with Ne­vaeh Sa­muel, one of the mod­els for the large pic­tures that adorn the wall out­side Maraeroa Kinder­garten, ad­vis­ing peo­ple to be safe near the road.

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