09 May 2017 - 9:46
PSI School launches Seat Belt campaign to educate students about road safety
The Pearling Season International (PSI) School welcomed a most esteemed guest, Dr Hassan Al Thani, at the end of April for a talk that became the grand finale to its ambitious Seat Belt Safety Campaign. It was attended by senior students of PSI School, their teachers and interested parents.
Initiated in December last year, the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) of PSI School embarked on a mission to educate each and every Year level on the importance of seat belts in a state that has one of the highest rates of road-related fatalities for young people in the world. It aimed to do so through a series of creative and exciting initiatives that were age-appropriate and strived to imbed the message in a meaningful manner.
These included customised colouring books, stickers, campaign logo badges, fact sheets, family pledge statements to sign and return for bonus points, in-class songs and video demonstrations, on-site seat belt convincers and roll over car simulators, and so much more.
“The Seat Belt campaign was wonderful,” Stacey James, Preschool Teacher at PSI School and the main Communications Lead for all the Seat Belt Safety initiatives, describes. “The children were engaged at every level and participated in a variety of activities, thanks to our enthusiastic faculty. I have had messages from parents sharing how their children were constantly reminding everyone to use car seats and wear their seat belts!”
In December, the PTA invited Dr Sohaila Cheema, the Director of the Division of Global and Public Health (GPH) at Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar, to speak to nearly 400 students from Early Years to Key Stage 2. “Dr Sohaila gave such an engaging talk across two separate age-customised presentations,” Hershey Ansay, the key PTA contact for Dr Cheema and co-organiser for the campaign, says.
“Gauging from the raptured look on students’ faces and the exclamations from them, it was immediately obvious that they were taking away some very important messages from the presentations.”
Fast forward to April, the incredibly important role to reach out to students in Key Stages 3 and 4 fell on Dr Hassan Al Thani, who arrived in his surgical scrubs and armed with a multimedia presentation and stories from his own experiences.
As the Head of Trauma and Vascular Surgery at the Hamad Trauma Center of Hamad Medical Corporation, Dr Hassan gave the students the viewpoint of a surgeon who sees the consequences of unsafe driving practices on a daily basis, primarily unrestrained drivers and passengers who are critically injured with traumatic brain injuries in need of major surgery and/or ICU admission.
“He delivered such an engaging presentation,” says Sabika Shaban, the key PTA contact for Dr Hassan and co-organiser for the campaign. “He used vivid imagery, statistics, campaign videos, dialogue, and stories from his ward and his family. One of his home-hitting anecdotes was of his son who crashed his car in a video game. He exclaims to his son that his son is dead now, and his son simply tells him, ‘No, I just hit the replay button’. But in life, Dr Hassan tells the students, ‘there is no ‘replay’ button. You have only this one chance at life the whole way through.’”
Dr Hassan highlighted to the students the immediate repercussions of unsafe car practices, including the extent of the pain the victim has to bear, the impact on the family, and the effect on other people sharing the episode. He also highlighted the picture on a larger scale, such as the cost of accidents on the government, the current and projected statistics of where this can lead to, and what observations have been made in past studies conducted in Qatar.
“Dr Hassan was simply phenomenal,” says the Head Teacher, Delores Thompson, who strongly believes in embedding safe seat belt practices into the school culture. “He knew exactly how to talk to the students, with a wonderful sense of humour to appeal to them but also an appropriate serious tone when he really required them to take the message home. Hearing it from someone who deals with trauma cases on a daily basis really brought a stark reality to the importance of safe driving practices.”
The incredible presentation was followed by a Q&A session with countless eager and curious students. He received questions about eating, drinking or smoking while driving; the use of Bluetooth and other technology in the car; the range of severities that he has seen on his operating table; the long-term consequences of trauma; and even the physics behind the safe height of a car. The session ended with a distribution of fact sheets that were customised for students and attending parents. Dr Hassan was also presented with a crystal shield from the Head Teacher in gratitude for his wonderful service to the school.