Families who experience the loss of a young life often say, “If I can save one family this pain … if only … if only we could have our lives back.”
For the 10th year, students from Batemans Bay, Moruya and Narooma high schools were bussed to the Moruya Racecourse this week for the two-day National Road Safety Education program which is co-ordinated by Rotary.
In retirement Rotarian and former principal of Batemans Bay High School, Neil Simpson, organises local presenters from the police, council’s road safety division, Rotary and a driving school.
Neil’s enthusiasm for the RYDA (Rotary Youth Driver Awareness) program is powerful.
“Why we like this program is the feedback we get from the kids and the presenters,” he said.
“There’s Genevieve’s Story, a video about a family whose daughter is killed in a road accident that shows the ripple effect of the tragedy.”
Brooke Stamp vividly recalls the video she saw two years ago.
“It really made me think,” she said.
I swallow, tears form as I remember my daughter’s friend Joanne with similar long shining hair and zest for life. Killed while climbing from the back seat to the front of a Volkswagen that slammed into a telegraph pole.
“Version 3 has a Personality Test – students reflect on risk taking elements of their own personality,” Neil said.
“It’s a lesson that could influence other aspects of saving young lives.”
He distributes laptops, notes and booklets, arranging timetables, buses and finances.
I asked Senior Constable Scott Britt what he thinks of the My Life, My Choices theme of the program.
His voice showed strong conviction: “It’s a great program, and I think it should be compulsory for all high school students. It’s well organised and run.”
Two colleagues from the local police vigorously endorsed what he said.
Rotarians from Batemans Bay and Narooma ran sessions and Moruya Rotary manned the canteen which supplied lunch.
Another former school principal, Keith Armstrong, who was turning beef patties, also emphasised the importance of the program.
“It is extremely valuable that students get this before they get in a car, before they have a licence. Speed is a killer,” he said
Every year this life changing course is at 600 venues across Australia and New Zealand and is given to 50,000 students.
I wonder if … if Joanne had this experience … would she be with us today.
The RYDA program celebrated 10 years teaching Year 11 students in the Eurobodalla about driving safety on Tuesday, April 4.
Neil Simpson said it was a terrific milestone but it was a serious business: “We are dealing with road trauma and death.”
He said RYDA’s mission was to have every year 11 student from the shire’s five high schools go through the program.
“To make it happen, we need someone at each school to be promoting it: Deon Cafe from Narooma High is great at that,” Neil said.
He said the course was designed for pre-learner drivers.
“Its an opportunity for them to learn and talk about how they will function as a driver or a passenger.
“As parents, as adults, we encourage risk-taking in our kids: ‘go on, have a go!’, we say. Put them on the road, it’s quite the opposite.
“This gives them an opportunity to think about risk-taking behaviour and develop a driving plan.”
Learning objectives for students attending RYDA:
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