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Volkswagen Challenges Teens To Generate a Positive Vibe For Seatbelt Usage

AUBURN HILLS, Mich.  – Every year, over 5,000 teenagers die in automobile crashes.  Nothing takes more young lives – not drinking, not drugs, not suicide.  Perhaps the greatest tragedy is that many of these deaths could be prevented: Up to 57 percent of these teens are not wearing seat belts.[1]

To increase safety belt use and reduce the number of auto-related teen deaths, Volkswagen of America, Inc. and Scholastic Marketing Partners, a division of Scholastic, announced today they are expanding their joint educational program, Fasten Your Seat Belt…Go Far!  Now in its third year, the project will expand from 10 to 20 major metropolitan markets across the country.

Fasten Your Seat Belt…Go Far! is an educational curriculum designed to provide high school students with the tools and means with which to influence their peers through positive peer pressure. As part of this curriculum, participating students create public service announcements that encourage other teens to wear safety belts. The peer-to-peer messages feature many different storylines and styles, but a singular message: Buckling up is cool. An informal study conducted by Volkswagen in year one of the program revealed the top reason teens don’t wear a safety belt is because they believe it is “uncool.”

In mid-March, Volkswagen will begin distributing the curriculum kits to 14,000 teachers in 20 major metropolitan areas including: Atlanta; Boston; Chicago; Charlotte; Cincinnati; Cleveland; Dallas; Detroit; Hartford; Houston; Los Angeles; Miami; Milwaukee; Minneapolis; New York; Philadelphia; San Diego; Seattle; St. Louis; and San Francisco.       

“We want to reach even more teens this year,” said Len Hunt, executive vice president, Volkswagen of America. “Young people are the future and too many are losing their chance at that future – their chance to go far in life.  Our goal is to get teens telling other teens that buckling up really is the cool and safe thing to do.”

“Inexperience behind the wheel, coupled with risk-taking behavior, often yields tragic results for our young people,” said NHTSA administrator Jeffrey W. Runge, M.D.  “We applaud Volkswagen and Scholastic for this important initiative.”

Fasten Your Seat Belt…Go Far! includes classroom materials that help teachers engage students in seat belt safety through a cross-curricular language arts program.  The lesson plans help teens build language and literacy skills; practice oral and written communication skills; and use creative expression as a powerful tool to affect other teens.

“The Fasten Your Seat Belt…Go Far! program offers an engaging way to infuse this critical topic in classroom discussions across the country,” stated Shelley White, editorial director of Scholastic Marketing Partners. “The program not only teaches positive messages and important communication skills to teens, but ultimately can help save their lives.”

Volkswagen will select three finalists, whose PSAs will be broadcast nationally— in previous years on MTV. A grand prize winner will also win a $10,000 U.S. Savings Bond; the second- and third-place winners will receive $3,000 and $1,000 savings bonds, respectively.

Information on how to enter the contest is also available online at: www.scholastic.com/fastenyourseatbelt. or at http://www.vw.com/vsa/index.htm#fasten. All entries must be postmarked by May 3, 2005.

Teachers of the three finalists will receive an Apple G5 computer with a flat screen monitor, Final Cut Express™ software for classroom use and a $100 Scholastic gift certificate.


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