Last year, the students in the Wilton High School Video Production Club collaborated to produce a series of videos, posters, flyers, and other promotional material for the cause of safe driving among teens. Their efforts led to the creation of a 5K race that was run in April earlier this year. Now, the students have bettered their efforts even more by organizing their 2nd Annual Race Ahead for Safe Driving 5K race that will be run on Saturday, Oct. 1, at 10 a.m. in Merwin Meadows.
A Second Wind
The students again organized the event with the aid of two teachers at the high school. Maria Naeem, a social studies teacher and advisor of the Video Production Club, helped the students create promotional content and guided their efforts against distracted driving. Caitlin Schmidt, a business teacher and advisor for the Wilton chapter of DECA, a national high school and collegiate club for business and entrepreneurship, assisted the students in marketing the event and obtaining sponsorships from local businesses.
Senior Timothy Martin, a board member of the Video Club, explained that the students hope to build on their experience from April. “Last year we had a great turnout but it was really difficult to get it off the ground for us. So now that we are making this an annual event, we really hope that turnout can be even better this year and that we can have a greater impact.”
Naeem supported the decision and agreed that the October date was more conducive to attracting runners compared to holding it in April.
Second Year, New Cause
When the idea for the Race Ahead for Safe Driving was originally conceived, there was only one goal: to promote safe driving among teens. Senior Jeanette Rosenthal, the president of the video club, pointed out that one in every four crash fatalities involves someone 16-24 years old. “As teen drivers ourselves, we hear so many stories about people getting in danger, so we thought this was a great cause to support.”
Martin spoke from experience about the impact the videos can have on teens as the target audience.
“We’ve been doing safe driving-inspired content for a while now, and the first time we did it was right around the time I got my permit, and I saw my own classmate driving too fast, and looking at their phones while driving. That really bothered me and it just happened to coincide with our safe driving stuff,” he said, adding that he believes the safety of everyone, especially his classmates, is very important on the roads.
While the group donated all the funds raised at last year’s event to support Wilton Police officer Elise Ackerman’s battle with cancer, this year the students have found another cause to support. Continuing the tradition of raising awareness for safe driving alongside raising money for a charitable cause, this year the money raised by the event will go towards First Candle. Based in New Canaan and led by Wilton resident Alison Jacobson as CEO/Executive Director, First Candle is a non-profit committed to ending Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related infant deaths, while also providing support to families who have been affected by such tragedies.
Martin noted that there is broad support among the students of the Video Club for this cause. “In the Video Club, we all thought that the predicament of infant death is really something we all are compassionate about.” In the end, Martin said, not only are the students working for a great cause but “we also get to practice using the skills we learn, like making visually interesting posters.”
To sign up for the event, visit the event website. The first 100 people to register will get free giveaway items.