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Florida Teens Win National Teen Driving Activism Contest


To celebrate National Youth Traffic Safety Month, “Act Out Loud: Raising Voices for Safe Teen Driving” honors the nation’s best teen-led, school-based safe driving projects.

A group of teens from Bloomingdale High School have been named grand prize winners of the 2008 “Act Out Loud: Raising Voices for Safe Teen Driving” contest. The online teen safe driving contest, sponsored by National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) and funded by The Allstate Foundation, featured 10 teams of teen driving activists from across the country who competed to raise awareness for teen safe driving in support of National Youth Traffic Safety Month in May. The winners were determined by the number of online votes they received on the contest Web site.

The Bloomingdale team will receive a $10,000 grand prize for their project, “Buckle Up,” and will designate a $5,000 grant in their honor to the Katie Marchetti Memorial Foundation, which was created to honor the memory of Katie Marchetti, a Bloomingdale teen, who lost her life in a car crash in 2006. Teams from Notre Dame Preparatory, Scottsdale, Ariz., and Oxford Academy, Cypress, Calif., were named second and third place winners and will receive $5,000 and $3,000 awards, respectively.

In April 2008, Bloomingdale High School encouraged safe teen driving by promoting its “Buckle Up” program through the student government and by documenting their project through blogs, photos and a video posting at The team filmed a daily segment for their school’s television station, which promoted seat-belt use and defensive driving, and incorporated teen driving statistics and interviews from students about the importance of wearing seatbelts. The team also organized a successful mini-demonstration at the school’s parking lot exits to encourage seatbelt use, holding signs that read “Honk if you buckled-up,” and held a teen driving rap contest at their school.

“We’re excited we won because everyone on the team has worked so hard to spread the word to our peers about being safe and responsible drivers,” said Claire Chipman, captain of Bloomingdale’s team. “There are so many ways to use this money to save lives. We’re really happy to have the opportunity to keep our efforts moving forward.”

“This is all about saving teen lives,” said Lucas Grabeel, star of “High School Musical” and spokesperson for Act Out Loud. “It’s cool to see people who are so creative and dedicated use their talents to have a positive impact on the world around them. We have the power to help reverse these teen driving stats and help prevent our friends from becoming one of the statistics.”

The second place Notre Dame Preparatory (NDP) team spread safe teen driving awareness via skits, videos, guest speakers talking about risks teen drivers face, a school assembly, a mock car crash, contests between homerooms to get students to join and posters around the school. The team worked with the Scottsdale Police Department to make a mock car crash a very poignant experience for spectators. The team also planted 16 crosses in front of the school chapel, representing the 16 teens that die on average in car crashes every day.

“Teen driver safety is an issue that is often overlooked by many people,” said Chris Cantoni, NDP’s team captain. “However, thanks to the generous funding we received from the Act Out Loud contest, our NDP Students Against Destructive Decisions club felt confident initiating a school-wide driver’s safety program in an interesting, yet effective manner.”

The third place Oxford Academy team advocated safe teen driving through many different methods. The team gave presentations about teen driving statistics to local teen drivers’ education courses and health classes at school, held a pep rally about National Youth Traffic Safety Month, wrote articles for the local newspapers, promoted their efforts on community boards in stores and engaged fellow teen drivers through parking lot demonstrations and grassroots street activism.

“The Oxford Academy Sophomore Class Committee (OASCC) was so excited to participate in this contest, to raise awareness about something that really applies to us and possibly save lives while still having fun,” said Brady Johnson, captain of the OASCC Act Out Loud team.

The top 10 Act Out Loud teams across the country educated their peers right before summer, which is the deadliest season for teens on the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seven of the top 10 deadliest days for teen drivers fall between Memorial Day and Labor Day. National Youth Traffic Safety Month activities encourage teens to conduct safe driving projects in May - during prom, graduation and the launch of the summer driving season - in hopes that teens and communities will be positively impacted by safe driving messages.


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