national youth leadership council

A Banner Year for Project Ignition

It’s been a banner year for our four Project Ignition schools. Each program has had its share of successes on the way to reaching the common goal: to increase awareness and seatbelt usage in their schools and communities. All schools also had the opportunity to present their projects at the 27th Annual National Service-Learning Conference® in Minneapolis, Minn.

When we last checked-in with Belton High School in Belton, Mo., they were aspiring to make a difference in their community by engaging youth in their Project Ignition campaign. Their efforts have paid off: According to pre- and post-surveys and actual seatbelt checks of its students, seat-belt use at Belton increased more than 2 percent from the beginning to the end of the school year. “Students seem to be more aware of the reasons why it is important to wear seatbelts, and the fact that our seatbelt use has increased shows that we have made some impact,” said Mary Cummings, an educator at Belton.

For New Foundations Charter School in Philadelphia, Pa., the goal for this year was to attract more members and raise seatbelt awareness. They’ve accomplished a lot this past year. New Foundations created a partnership with State Farm, received a $2,000 grant in support of Project Ignition, and set up weekly text alerts to remind its students of the importance of safe driving.

Project Ignition has been a constant presence for the past 11 years at Gibson City Melvin Sibley High School in Gibson City, Ill. “My students have learned how to make a difference in this world,” said Judy Weber-Jones, leader of PI at GCMS. “We have changed laws to improve the Illinois roadways and changed the positive peer pressure to driving safely.” This past year, the project helped to save the life of one of their students, who made the choice to wear a seatbelt.

Har-Ber High School in Springdale, Ark., used multiple platforms including social media, video, print media, and school events to get their message across. “We received 254 pledges to buckle up in one day,” said student Sarah Strickland. “After the kick-off event, we posted the pledge banners on the wall in our rotunda to be a reminder to the students who pledged to buckle up.” In addition, Har-Ber observed over 1,000 teen students for seat-belt use and saw an increase of 13 percent according to visual post-surveys.

Project Ignition is supported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In partnership with NHTSA, Project Ignition students are working to effectively increase seat-belt usage among teens — a safety precaution that is proven to save lives in motor vehicle accidents.