On April 16th 2012, YOURS officially launched the Youth and Road Safety Action Kit. Since then, there has been unprecedented interest in our work and the background of the kit. We are incredibly proud of the finished project which kick starts our capacity development program across the world. In this article, we take a few moments to catch up with Ms Nellie Ghusayni, lead author of the kit and her journey in writing it, seeing it mapped in creative design to the finished product!
Lead author of the Kit, Ms Nellie Ghusayni takes a picture holding the kit that she authored.
On April 16, 2012, YOURS launched its first-ever road safety toolkit. Targeting young people all over the world. The kit aims to introduce road safety in a concise, yet clear and appealing way. In order to know more about that kit, we interviewed our Programs Officer, Ms Nellie Ghusayni, who is the leader author of the Youth and Road Safety Action Kit! You can also read behind the scenes of the design process in an interview YOURS ran with lead designer at Airspace Studio Mr Mark Woodwood.
Q: Why did you decide to write the kit?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approached us offering a small grant to develop a document for young people through the capacity development programme they have with the International Union for Health Promotion and Education. It started out as a 10-15 pages simple document with basic information that will benefit young people. There is a lot of information on road safety available but it is not very accessible to youth, the language is not youth “friendly” and the content can be too technical, and not all young people can access the internet to find what they want.
Q: Why and how is this kit unique?
I think the Kit is unique for three reasons. The first is its content. The content is what we believe, through our consultation with youth from different parts of the world, young people need to know about road safety and creating their own projects. It’s the bottom line, the essentials, the basics.
The second reason is the writing style used. As you know, road safety is not a very exciting or entertaining topic for young people. Information on road safety can be very dry and “unfriendly” to young people. We worked with Kate Brown, an experienced editor for youth publications to make the writing as friendly as we can without it being too informal or even patronizing. We tried to use humor, sarcasm, every day words to make reading the Kit more enjoyable.
The final reason is the design and layout. The Kit had to be different. It had to be attractive. It had to stand out. It had to look and feel like a document young people might want to pick up. AirSpace Studio came up with the concept of designing 3D models so everything that you see in the Kit was actually built and then photographed. I think Mark told you more about the design in your interview with him.
Q: How did you go about researching the topics?
The first thing we did when we decided to write the document is get in touch with our youth network with questions on what they would like to know more about, what would benefit other youth in their country- even those not currently involved in road safety, what can help get more youth active and things like that.
We had a group of youth from all regions putting their ideas and thoughts forward. After this brainstorm that gave enough ideas for many publications, we focused on the purpose of the document. Why are we writing it? What are the main things we want to achieve? Then we went back and created an initial list of topics that will be addressed. with time more topics were added and others were removed, all with consultation with members of the youth network and experts.
You can imagine there was a lot of back and forth and changes before we settled on what we have now. Our main references were the World report on road traffic injury prevention, the series of good practice manuals produced by the UN Road Safety Collaboration and other key documents all cited in the Kit.
Q: What was the most enjoyable part of the authoring and creation?
Definitely the design process. Until Mark started showing us what it would actually look like it was just a very long Word document for me, a document I have been working on for months and can hardly look at anymore. The design process made it come to life. It made me believe that eventually the document will actually be published.
Turning the document of the Kit into a real life designed piece ready for the publication really brought the whole process of authoring a publication to life.
Q: What was the most challenging part to writing this publication?
It is very difficult to think of the most challenging part, there are many! As I mentioned we started with a 10-15 pages document that we thought we can finish in a couple of months. I have not written anything like this before so I had no idea of what was coming. The main challenges were in deciding what information to include and what to exclude.
There is a lot of knowledge, we need to learn a lot, and the needs of youth even in the same country vary. Integrating the feedback of experts and youth when they reviewed Kit was also difficult. As you know, the Kit was reviewed by young people from many countries and from experts and we wanted to integrate as much of their thoughts and suggestions to make the document as useful as possible. Perhaps most challenging of all was deciding to stop making changes and edits.
Q: How was the experience of turning your writing into a designed piece?
This is the best part by far. The design process is incredibly exciting, especially when you are working with a very creative team. I couldn’t wait to see the first concepts Mark created, the pagination, the typography, imagery, everything. and after every presentation I would get even more excited. It is amazing to see how text can be transformed and how much a good design can bring to an otherwise lifeless document.
Q: How do you feel about the end result?
I am thrilled with the end result- although part of me still does not believe that it has been published. In a way what we have now is even better than what we had imagined. YOURS is a very young organization, officially we are 2 years old, and this is our very first attempt at producing a road safety publication.
Q: Any final comments?
The Youth and Road Safety Action Kit is only a tool- a tool to provide youth with information on road safety and help them get involved. Its success, and our success, is its use. If young people do not pick it up and read it and if some of them do not decide to take action then we did not really do much. So we have to get the document to the youth, in their languages, in their countries and communities, and we have to show them how they can use it.
Finally, I would like to thank all the people who supported the development of the Kit whether by financial contribution, technical assistance, expert reviews, personal advice, or listening to me talk about it. The list is very long so I will not mention names but a heartfelt “thank you” goes out to everyone who has contributed in any way. You know who you are. Thank you!
Q: Where do we find the action kit and how should it be used?
The YOURS action kit is available online for free download here and can also be used as a training tool. We already trained trainers in Oman for example last month, before it was actually printed, and it was a great success.
You can also read an interview run by GRSP with Nellie Ghusayni about the Kit!