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Posted May 31, 2013
Congratulations to the Battle of the Belts 2013 Winners

Battle of the Belts - 2013
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Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for American teenagers. In fact, teens have the highest motor vehicle crash fatality rate of any age group. In addition, they also have the lowest safety belt usage rates of all drivers. For the last three years All Children's Suncoast Safe Kids of Pasco has conducted a Battle of the Belts program in an effort to change these statistics and increase safety belt use amongst teenagers.

The goal of this campaign is for high school students to convince their peers to always wear seat belts. Student organizations are asked to create a unique campaign for their high school to encourage fellow students to wear their seat belts during every ride in a motor vehicle.

This is what the Battle of the Belts program is all about - teens influencing other teens to wear seatbelts and decrease distracted driving. The Battle of the Belts is a collaborative community program that offers students in the local high schools the opportunity to use their most creative and influential voices to make a difference.

High schools in each county have a one-week campaign at their school. Community volunteers do an unannounced pre and post-count to see how many students are wearing seat belts.

The schools compete in various categories, including: Best Campaign, Most Increased Seat Belt Use and Best Overall Seat Belt Use.

The school with the best overall seat belt use gets a traveling trophy, which they will get to keep for a year - until the next awards ceremony. This creates a healthy rivalry among the schools.

The campaign is school driven - each school implements activities, designed by students sometimes in collaboration with faculty, which they think will make an impact on the students of their school.

Most have morning announcements reminding students to stay safe on the road; several schools have walls of commitment to not drive distracted and to always wear a seatbelt; some schools have assemblies with guest speakers and personal stories; still others have grim reaper programs highlighting the serious consequences of bad choices. However a program is developed, schools submit their best work for local community judging and compete locally for awards and recognition.

In addition to pre and post-surveys and campaigns, the students also have an opportunity to enter individual competitions in three categories: poster design, public service announcement and essay. All Children's Hospital with help from numerous sponsors offers prizes for the winners.

Pinellas County had six high schools competing: Bayside, Boca Ciega, Palm Harbor University High School, Pinellas Park, Tarpon Springs and Seminole High Schools. Each school produced excellent work including public service announcements, posters, and essays. Seminole High School had the best seatbelt use/least distracted driving percentage in pre-and post-count. They were also awarded the best campaign. Pinellas Park High School had the most improved seatbelt use/least distracted driving at the end of their campaign.

In Polk County, four high schools signed up, but three completed the campaign at their schools. The winner of the best campaign and most increased seat belt use was Lake Region High School and two schools tied for the Best Overall Seat Belt Use with 98% of their students wearing their seat belts during the post-count. Those schools are Auburndale High School and Tenoroc High School.

Pasco County celebrated their fifth year anniversary with the program this year. Gulf High School won the trophy and they will house it at their school. River Ridge High School had the most increased seat belt use this year.

The Pasco and Polk Counties winning public service announcements will be professionally produced and will air on local television stations. In Pasco County, State Farm sponsored the production and in Polk County the sponsor was Burnetti Children's Foundation. Also, thanks to CW44 for matching the airtime one to one to provide additional viewing of the PSA.
 
Congratulations to all the students who led the campaigns at their schools and worked hard to help save the lives.

For more information, please visit: www.allkids.org/battleofthebelts