Thanks to a $2,000 grant, the Waterloo High School SAFE Club will be able to spread awareness about safe driving habits and other healthy life practices in a whole new way.
The grant, awarded by the Illinois Department of Transportation, enables the club to do more promotional activities and educate others about the dangers of practices such as texting and driving.
Club adviser Brianne Renz said the grant is supported by IDOT, Allstate and Ford, and this is the first year they have pursued the grant.
SAFE, which stands for “Safe Actions For Everyone,” currently has seven members, all senior girls.
The club was formerly known as Lifesavers, but they disbanded from the national group for various reasons and have been known as SAFE Club for three years.
At the beginning and end of the program, members are required to do a seat belt check at the high school to see what percentage of students are using seat belts properly.
To conduct the checks, club members stand outside with clipboards and monitor cars that go by to see if drivers and passengers are using their seatbelts. They then count up the tallies and get a percentage.
“For our December check, we found that 90 percent of our drivers, 87 percent of our front seat passengers and 79 percent of our back seat passengers were wearing seat belts,” Renz said. “We would love to see each of these numbers over 90 percent during February’s check.”
Though the club cannot reveal when the second check will occur, Renz said it will be sometime at the end of February.
Going through the process of being awarded a grant takes up a lot of time and paperwork, and Renz said it’s not something she’s seen the club do in her three years as an adviser.
However, one of the group’s members, Kady Cecena, lost her sister in a 2012 car crash and really wanted to push for the grant this year to spread awareness.
“We applied and got the money, but since it’s December through February, we’ve had to do a lot of planning for the money,” Renz said.
As one of the group’s activities, they will have a flag-raising ceremony the morning of Feb. 5, outside the cafeteria. As part of one of the grant requirements, the flag will have the Allstate hashtag of “#GetThereSafe” on it. The club has invited representatives from Allstate, and they will have donuts for students as well.
They also plan to spread awareness on the new law that was passed in Illinois prohibiting drivers from using hand-held phones while driving. Under the new law, using a cell phone while driving in Illinois can mean fines starting at $75.
For the remainder of the school year, the club plans to be involved with Respect Week, raise money for the women’s shelter and participate in Yellow Ribbon Week as well.