Each year, about 1,500 pedestrians and 550 bicyclists are hit by cars on Connecticut roadways. The National Road Safety Foundation (NRSF) and GHSA awarded grant funding to the Connecticut Highway Safety Office (CT HSO) to support the Watch for Me CT project by promoting safe youth mobility by training teen ambassadors to educate their peers at community-based events. This project’s goal was to increase the overall visibility of pedestrian and bicyclist safety issues through public service messages, community engagement and educational materials. The Watch for Me CT program, a partnership between the CT HSO and the Connecticut Children’s Injury Prevention Center (CCIPC), thrived with this boost in funding.
Youth Ambassador Training and Promotion
Youth were recruited from the Hartford Yard Goats Young Ambassadors Program (HYGYAP) and trained to be peer educators (Youth Ambassadors) on bicycle and pedestrian safety. The Youth Ambassadors hosted a variety of community safety events where children of all ages and their parents/guardians were invited to learn and practice basic bicycle and pedestrian safety skills such as signaling, maneuvering, avoiding hazards, scanning and bicycle maintenance.
As all the events were hosted in high-risk, low-income communities, and helmets were distributed on a first-come, first-served basis at each event. While the events were well-attended, the CT HSO usually had helmets for all the kids. An additional 20 attendees received free bicycles donated by the South Windsor-based Recycled Rides Project.
The teen educator training provided the eight Youth Ambassadors with the necessary knowledge and skills to continue teaching their peers and others within their community about being safe on the road. The helmets and light distribution will enable children/teens to be better protected when biking or scooting. A recap video of the 2022 HYGYAP can be used in future programs and thanked the partners who made this HYGAP a success.