BY LOUISE R. SHAW
Clipper Staff Writer
BOUNTIFUL – When students at Boulton Elementary surveyed their classmates at the beginning of the year, they found that only 75 percent of them were wearing their seatbelts properly.
Since then, the student council has been working to change that.
Every month, with the support and encouragement of school resource officer Cpl. Matthew Combs, students have been working to educate their peers on the importance of proper seat-belt usage.
One month it might be a coloring contest, one month original posters educate Р or to remind students about proper seatbelt usage.
Through a multitude of ways, students have learned that they should be 13 before they sit in the front seat of a car and that they should never keep a backpack on when buckled in or neck injuries could result.
“We’re hoping for a significant improvement,” said Combs. “Obviously, 100 percent would be perfect and it’s our goal. It saves lives. It reduces injuries.”
Organizers are coordinating with the “Click-it Club,” sponsored by the Department of Public Safety Highway Safety Office.
Amy Winkler, an occupant protection specialist for the department, was on hand recently when student council members presented awards to winners of an art contest.
“The Click-it Club is designed to encourage healthy habits for kids,” said Winkler. “If we start kids early, making sure their seatbelts are buckled, they’ll have the habit thoughout their life.”
Students are “deputized,” she said, and encouraged to get their parents to buckle up as well.
Focus groups have found that non-seatbelt users are more likely to buckle up if their kids encourage them in a postive way.
Indeed, several student council members said they had already had to remind their parents to buckle up.
“I think this is great that kids your age are getting involved,” said Bountiful Chief Tom Ross, who attended the brief ceremony and gave two reasons he was excited about the student-led program.
“Number one, it’s important to know how much influence you have over your parents,” he said. “Because of the love we have for our kids, we’re going to listen to you.
“Number two, you are the future drivers,” said Ross. “You can make sure your friends buckle up. We see those kinds of accidents all the time.”
People get busy, said Ross, and make the mistake of thinking they can drive a few blocks without seatbelts.
He encouraged students to make sure their families buckle up before pulling out of their driveways.
Ross was complimentary of the program Combs has helped implement, and hopes it will spread to other schools.
He was also glad to see the message is not coming from a parent group, but from the students themselves.
“Getting your group behind it will get the kids supporting it,” he told the student council.
“I love the idea that it’s this young an age group behind it,” said Ross.