Since 2014 we have been working with a super talented group of young people to develop road safety amongst youth in Belize. Over the two year period, we trained two cohorts of youth leaders in Belize in road safety theory affecting youth, fundamentals of peer education and facilitation alongside some key campainging skills.
The project, championed and sponsored by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Government of Belize (GOBZ) was timely, coinciding with infrastrcuture development in the country to improve Belize's overall road safety system.
The Belizean Youth for Road Safety (BYRS) are an organization with bounds of energy, creativity and road safety knowledge. The group was formed as specially recruited youth leaders interested in road safety youth leadership who wanted to know more about making a significant contribution to their country's road safety reality. In two Training of Facilitator workshops, the organization grew to 34 members who have the skills, knowledge and resources to reach out to their peers and educate them on road safety issues.
We worked with BYRS and trained them in road safety theory and key topics facing young people on the road. The youth were equipped with fundamental skills in facilitation; how to connect with their peers, how to run workshops that use a logical model of human learning as well as enabling creativity, expression, fun and learning. BYRS were set with a target of reaching 2000 young people in the country through in person workshops.
BYRS have been highly active in Belize to work with their peers in training them on road safety. The group successfully trained over 2000 youth in Belize across over 80 workshops all over the country. Alongside this, BYRS have secured a contract to train an addition 1000 young people across the country.
However, the youth in Belize have not stopped at workshops. Being the creative youth champions that they are, BYRS has also reached hundreds and thousands of youth all across Belize through campaigning, video public service announcements (PSAs), radio campaigns and media appearances to take road safety further.
Looking at the data collected from the trained peers in workshops, we can see an overall improvement of knowledge on road safety topics as defined by the Evaluation Officer in Belize. Young people who have undergone the workshops run by BYRS illustrate a positive change in attitudes towards road safety.
Second Review Visit
During November 2016, we went back to Belize to review the impact the project has had on the youth in the country as the young people part of the project. We also spoke with the stakeholders of the project to see their perspective on the programme.
“The project has been positive and very engaging; statistics in terms of crashes amongst young people is down”.
- Ms. Yvonne Hyde -Chief Executive Officer Ministry of Economic Development, Commerce, Industry and Consumer Protection
“The project has been very comprehensive and took into account the UN’s System Approach. It has enabled young people to share knowledge of road safety in their modus operandi; fun, engaging and informative”
- Ms. Pamela Scott – Project Manager of the Belize Road Safety Project (PMU)
Participants to the programme expressed that the programme has has a profound impact on them.
When asked how the programme has impacted their thinking, participants noted that they are more cautious road users, are challenging road safety culture by promoting the key risk factors in their every day lives and that it has helped them to perceive road dangers much more clearer.
When asked how the programme has impacted their personal development, particpants expressed that activities have helped with articulating arguments more coherently and logically. It has impacted profoundly on their confidence, especially in speaking and relating to their peers, becoming a better pubic speaker and with their personal and professional organization.
The programme has also impacted their day-to-day actions, with participants taking the necessary steps to be safer as road users such as using seatbelts, ensuring all passengers on two wheels are protected by helmets, reducing their own speed as well as encouraging people around them to do the same. Participants described their actions as having a ripple affect on friends and family. One expressed their friends and family have named her ‘Miss Road Safety’ for the impact and energy she places on safety measures as a road user.
The wider perceived impact on the local area and the country as a whole is apparent through the workshops run across the country. While much has been done to educate youth on road safety, participants feel much more needs to be done in ensuring youth become empowered with road safety knowledge. As ‘roam wasn’t built in a day’, road safety culture still has a long way to go in embedding safer options for road users across the systems approach.