Heroines of Traffic are the mothers of our future and hardworking ladies of our country. The team has been an agent of change by identifying community matters, developing action plans and proposing public policy with their active involvement.
İpekçilik Anatolian İmam Hatip High School is one of the successful project schools assigned by the Turkish Ministry of Education. The population of our school is mostly female students who stay at the dormitory and have government achievement scholarships.
Because students stay at the dormitory, we are not as exposed to traffic problems. We have to face and identify traffic issues when travelling to our hometowns at the weekends. However, we have become the agents of changes in our community.
Taking into account our age and capabilities, we have tried to focus on the issue by analyzing the environment around our school and the neighboring school. Our school is located between houses and not directly exposed to the traffic flow of the main roads or cross roads, but after school we are given free time to go shopping or to the health center, when we become pedestrians as well.
Within walking distance there is a governmental nursery school with 3-6 year old children. In the early morning and late afternoon we organized an observation workshop where our idea developed. While the kids are being brought to school by their parents, a small scale traffic jam occurs just in front of the schools. An outside garden serves both schools; this empty area has not been designed as a parking lot and cars park randomly there.
We decided to watch the scene in front of the school for one week. Mostly the drivers are working mothers who are in a great hurry to arrive at work on time.
So, our first essential issue dealt with child car seats or booster seats in our country. Our main concern is to keep kids safe when riding in a vehicle. Since June 1st, 2010, child car seats and booster seats have been obligatory. In the same and the following year, the usual traffic controls were intensified, which helped to reduce the number of childhood traffic deaths, but from 2013 up to now the rate of childhood deaths between the ages of birth and 9 years old has unfortunately increased. Each year thousands of young children are killed or injured in car crashes all around the world. Moreover, the position of a child’s car seat should be considered for safe mobility and parents ought to be informed and warned not to fix the seats in the front of the car. In our country, it is prohibited for a kid under twelve to sits in the front seat even on city buses, but the penalty is only 20 Euros, which means it is not dissuasive.
Our second concern, after buckling the seat belts, was about being highly careful while backing up a car during the departure or arrival of the nursery kids in the parking lot. The kids tend to run eagerly to school when leaving the arms of their parents. An accident while backing up involving a small child or a child inadvertently killed by a family member can happen at any time and most of the cars don’t have any back view cameras.
The next observation was about safe mobility of the children and our friends when walking to the nearby bus and subway station.
After having noticed these problems, we created a chain. Our decision making process would need families, neighbors, community organisations, and government agencies to solve these problems.
Our project was designed to help the community to develop the knowledge and skills we need to be effective and active citizens. The promise is to prepare our roles as responsible and active citizens of today, tomorrow and long into the future.
1- According the rules of our school, we had to collect the official student’s permission paper from our parents to be one of the Heroines of Traffic.
There is an emphasis on “female” students as our ideas and pre-observation from the beginning has been concerned with mothers and educating the kids at our neighboring Özlüce Nursery School. We are aware of the role of mothers in the education of the next generation of the future.
Our first action was informing our school friends by conducting a survey. To be able to participate effectively, our team prepared a six-question survey asking the meaning of the most used and encountered traffic signs. We prepared posters, brochures and charts of traffic signs at every corner of our school, even on the doors and mirrors of the restrooms, as the girls stay long in front of the mirrors.
2- We divided into groups of two to three students. Each group was assigned to follow up on the agreed upon problems after the meetings. The collected input was to be shared with the entire school. We learned that some of our teachers were also our main target groups as they had their kids at Özlüce Nursery School. Early in the morning, after breakfast at the dorm, we waited at the parking lot to make a video and do interviews about their arrival to both schools.
3- We prepared a bulletin showing our statistics which came from the survey and the interviews. We worked with the canteen staff and collected all the water bottles to decorate them with our hand-crafted stickers. In this way, by carrying the bottles wherever we went, we could get the attention of people at the subway or public bus lines, as well as our families and teachers and achieve a large scale dissemination of our work.
4- Another group was assigned to do the activities at Özlüce Nursery School. It had many steps which were carried out successfully at the nursery school (meanwhile, other activities continued at our school). Fortunately, we had the power to insert our activities into the curriculum by exchanging ideas with the headmistress of the Özlüce Nursery School.
The first activity we did was a theatre play with a script written by our team members. The main idea was to learn how to cross the road and understand the meaning of the traffic light colors. In order to reinforce our effort for the kids, we baked cookies in the shape of traffic lights. The order of the colors on the cookies was another game for the kids. These activities were shared with the children’s parents, so our target group was enlarged.
5- The week after the theatre play we organized a traditional shadow play called Karagöz and Hacivat, which is famous and valuable in Bursa and all over our country. During the play, via video call, our Polish partner school from Etwinning Project was able to watch us and learned about our shadow play.
6- All three activities were related to First Aid Education for three different types of the audiences. The first was organized by the preparatory classes at İpekçilik. The parental support of the female driving course teacher was beneficial, meaningful and strong.
The second speaker was a woman from the Turkish Red Crescent who was collaborating with the Global First Aid Reference Centre in Paris. This applied workshop was given to the Heroines of Traffic in the seminar hall to practice and learn the necessary first aid exercises in case of traffic accidents.
The final initiative was arranged at the Özlüce Nursery School. The team’s play about first aid, written in an understandable language for the kids, was performed. It dealt with bruises, broken arms or legs, head injuries and their consequences, getting fingers caught in a car door, etcetera. One of the Heroines of Traffic disguised as a clown performed and the kids learned while enjoying themselves.
At the end of the day, we presented a gift to the nursery school; a medicine chest full of necessary items for the kids. We were thanked and finished our duty there.
7- One group prepared a wooden card game. In another activity, a carpet with a model of a map with cross-roads and zebra crossings was suggested so that the kids could apply the newly learned information.
8- All these materials were shared on our social media accounts and gained great admiration.
9- In our school we had Friday prayers and weekly meetings at İbrahim Pasha Cultural Center. Three Heroines presented our recent activities and disseminated the aims and results during Friday prayers. At the cultural center, two Heroines gave a talk about the general project idea for the other grades and others, such as parents and visitors.
10- The last activity at the nursery school was welcoming two traffic police. The two-hour workshop consisted of safe mobility, risky behaviors, responsible actions and the like. The importance of a wearing helmet and sitting in a child seat was explained and kids shared many dangerous experiences with their parents during their travels.
11- We shared our activities at a National Anthem Ceremony for the rest of our school and we were applauded by all our teachers and friends.