Road safety message gets through
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.
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.