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Student-Produced PSAs Urge Teens to “Buckle Up” – TV Spots to Debut Nationally During MTV’s Total Request Live”

Viewers of MTV’s Total Request Live (TRL) will be the first in the country to view and vote on three new, student-produced “buckle up” public service announcements, created by teens to educate other teens on the importance of utilizing safety belts. Viewers of the Monday, September 8, 2003, TRL broadcast will be asked to vote online for the most compelling video PSA. The TV spots were produced as part of Fasten Your Seat Belt…Go Far!, a national safety belt educational program and contest, created by Volkswagen of America, Inc. and educational leader, Scholastic Inc.

The three finalist PSAs were produced by students from Henry Ford II High School in Sterling Heights, Mich.; Adrian C. Wilcox High School in Santa Clara, Calif.; and Decatur High School in Decatur, Ga. They were chosen from several hundred entries originally received by Volkswagen and Scholastic as part of the educational program’s contest, which asked students to create 30-second television public service announcements urging other teens to buckle up.

Once the finalist entries air on MTV, viewers will be asked to vote online for their favorite. The winner of the competition will subsequently be announced during the Friday, October 3, 2003 TRL broadcast on MTV.

Actress Mila Kunis, who portrays Jackie Burkhart on That 70’s Show, will introduce the video finalists during the September telecast as well as announce the winning public service announcement during the later October broadcast.

Each year, 5,000 teenagers perish in auto accidents; two-thirds of those individuals are not wearing seat belts. In an effort to combat those disturbing statistics, Volkswagen and Scholastic developed the Fasten Your Seat Belt…Go Far! safety belt initiative, distributing 12,000 curriculum packets earlier this year to high school teachers across the country, inviting them to utilize the seat belt safety curriculum in their classrooms and encourage student participation in the PSA contest.

“We believe the most effective messenger for a teenager is another teenager,” said Frank Maguire, vice president of sales and marketing for Volkswagen of America. “The statistics of teenagers involved in fatal car crashes is shocking. But it is a national health problem that could be alleviated if teens thought it was hip, and actually important to their health and safety, to wear a seat belt. That is the primary purpose of this project.”

The commitment from Volkswagen to high schools is a fitting initiative. In a 2002 survey of 3,300 teens conducted by CNW Marketing, Volkswagen was rated as having the best youth image among all automakers.

“Volkswagen is a very popular brand with teenagers, and we wanted to use our connection with them to help create awareness and, ultimately, help save lives,” said Maguire. “Volkswagen is also known for its creative advertising through the years. These new ads showcase the creative vision of our next generation, and the message will be one of the most important we will ever broadcast.”

The trio of student finalists will each receive a $1,500 U.S. savings bond and a digital video camera. The finalist selected as the grand prize winner will be awarded a $10,000 savings bond; the second- and third-place winners will receive $5,000 and $2,500 savings bonds, respectively.

The teacher of the grand prize winner will win a seven-day educational trip to Europe courtesy of Volkswagen, a classroom set of Scholastic communication and writing skills books, and up to $250 in Scholastic gift certificates. All three finalists’ schools will win $5,000 worth of audiovisual equipment provided by Volkswagen.

The student finalists selected are Erin Cosens (Sterling Heights), Nathan Sage (Santa Clara) and Sarah Watson (Decatur). Their teachers are Joe Elliott (Sterling Heights), Joan Owen (Santa Clara) and Jon Reese (Decatur).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that safety belts save over 11,000 lives a year. Through Fasten Your Seat Belt…Go Far!, Volkswagen and Scholastic hope to significantly add to those positive numbers while educating teens on driving safety.

Founded in 1955, Volkswagen of America, Inc. is headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan. It is a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany. Volkswagen is one of the world’s largest producers of passenger cars and Europe’s largest automaker. Volkswagen of America and its affiliates employ approximately 3,000 people in the United States and are responsible for the sale and service of Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini and Volkswagen products through retail networks comprising approximately 800 independent U.S. dealers.

Scholastic Corporation (NMS: SCHL) is the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books. Scholastic creates quality educational and entertaining materials and products for use in school and at home, including children’s books, textbooks, magazines, technology-based products, teacher materials, television programming, videos and toys. The company distributes its products and services through a variety of channels, including proprietary school-based book clubs, school-based book fairs, school-based and direct-to-home continuity programs; retail stores, schools, libraries and television networks; and the company’s Web site, www.scholastic.com.

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