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Youth To Be Honored At Seatbelt Safety Luncheon In Tallahassee Tuesday

Ami Neiberger

TALLAHASSEE-You don’t have to be big to make a big difference with seatbelt safety. Just ask the winners of the statewide safety belt poster contest when they receive their awards in Tallahassee on Tuesday during Buckle Up America Week.

It all started with artwork drawn by more than 70,000 youth in 40 counties showing ways to inspire others to buckle up. Eleven of the contest’s 12 winners will be in Tallahassee with their parents, teachers and extension agents on Tuesday for an awards lunch. Winners in grades K-8 have their artwork featured on a statewide calendar, and grades 9-12 have their artwork displayed on bumper stickers.

They will attend the Buckle Up press conference at 10:30a.m. in the capitol courtyard to hear about the SADD “Battle of the Belts” campaign, go on a tour of the capitol at 11:30, and be recognized at the awards lunch at the governor’s club at 12:30p.m. The winners are coming from Charlotte, Clay, Dade, Duval, Hillsborough, Marion, Martin, Orange and Osceola counties. After receiving their awards, each child will say one or two words about the importance of seatbelt safety. A list of names and schools appears below.

Only 59 per cent of people in Florida use their seatbelts, according to a study by the Florida Department of Transportation. That’s why this program is so valuable, say organizers, because it helps save lives. “A lot of kids can get their parents to buckle up, when no one else can,” said Mary Harrison, professor in the University of Florida’s Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences and coordinator for the youth seatbelt safety poster contest. She said that the contest ties into a more in-depth school enrichment curriculum which encourages seatbelt use.

Established in 1988, the youth seatbelt safety program is funded by a grant from the Florida Department of Transportation The program is a partnership between the University of Florida’s Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences, BuckleUp Florida, the Florida Department of Transportation and the Florida 4-H Youth Development Program. The Florida 4-H Foundation will provide the awards.

Grades K-2, Youth Safety Belt Poster Contest Winners
1rst Place-Morgan Parrish, Martin County, 2nd grade at Palm City Elementary
2nd Place-Courtney Motta, Clay County, 2nd grade at Clay Hill Elementary
3rd Place-Trevor Dolan, Orange County, 2nd grade at Lake George Elementary

Grades 3-5, Youth Safety Belt Poster Contest Winners
1rst Place-Brynn Barnett, Marion County, 5th grade at South Ocala Elementary
2nd Place-Desiree Cornelius, Clay County, 5th grade at Clay Hill Elementary
3rd Place-Coception Perez, Dade County, 5th grade at Redland Christian Migrant Association

Grades 6-8, Youth Safety Belt Poster Contest Winners
1rst Place-Danielle Munno, Charlotte County, 7th grade home school (also a 1999 winner)
2nd Place-Jermaine Belle, Dade County, 8th grade at Jose de Diego Middle School (not attending)
3rd Place-Nadia Terc, Osceola County, 7th grade at Denn John Middle School

Grades 9-12, Youth Safety Belt Bumper Sticker Contest
1rst Place-Joshua Roling, Duval County, Peterson Academies
2nd Place-Karen Gonzalez, Dade County, 9th grade at William Turner Technical Arts High School
3rd Place-Renee Rivas, Hillsborough County, 11th grade at Henry B. Plant High School

Who: Youth from Across Florida
What: Seatbelt Safety Contest Awards Lunch
When: Tuesday, May 23, 2000, 12:30p.m. (Note: Youth will attend the Buckle Up press conference in the capitol courtyard at 10:30a.m. and tour the capitol at 11:30a.m.)
Where: The Governor’s Club, Tallahassee
Photo Opp: Winning youth with their original colorful artwork, which will be made into a calendar distributed statewide. The tour of the capitol (11:30a.m.-12:30p.m.) and time following the awards luncheon will provide opportunities to talk to youth and their parents.

Mary Harrison, Professor & Coordinator for the Program (352) 392-1868
Ami Neiberger, State 4-H Public Relations Coordinator (352) 846-0996 ext. 237, cell (352) 213-5654 weekends (352) 367-1267

For information about Buckle Up Florida, contact Terry Henry at (850) 473-7071, or the press conference at 10:30 call Kerrie Protas (Herrle Communications Group) at (850) 681-3200. To find out more about the Florida Department of Transportation and its efforts to encourage seatbelt use, contact Barbara Powell at (850) 488-5455.