Holmen students use contest to promote anti-texting message [La Crosse Tribune, Wis.]
(La Crosse Tribune (WI) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Oct. 21--HOLMEN -- Grant Mayer guesses about 90 percent of his classmates text and drive.
The 17-year-old Holmen High School junior called distracted driving a "big issue" for teens, who he says are more connected to their technology than other drivers and less likely to put down the phone when behind the wheel.
Mayer and other students in his sports marketing class are trying to break the habit with an online safe-driving campaign.
"A lot, a lot of kids text and drive," Mayer said. "We could prevent possible injuries, even death."
The invitation to take State Farm's Celebrate My Drive pledge extends to all local drivers and gives students the chance to receive a $100,000 grant for the school. Drivers who take the pledge also can vote for their favorite school. The school with the most votes earns the money.
Holmen marketing teacher Heather Breske split students into groups, with each focused on a target demographic. Students in Holmen's marketing club, DECA, also are helping with the nine-day drive.
Students set up a Twitter account, passed out fliers and hung signs. They also spread the word about the drive by getting out into the community, attending prep football games and signing up pledge-takers at Festival Foods.
The Celebrate My Drive contest was more than a chance to encourage smarter, safer habits for the road -- it was a chance to help the school in a time of tight budgets, said Bekah Risch, a student at Holmen. Students have partnered with an agent from the Paul Dunham State Farm Insurance Agency for the drive.
"It's a good way to hopefully raise funds for our school," the 16-year-old Risch said.
Teens are more likely to text and drive because their social interactions are more dependent on smartphones and social media, Holmen student Ashley Taylor said. Gadgets cranked out by tech companies almost seem to encourage phone use behind the wheel, said the 16-year-old junior -- car chargers, radio adapters and hands-free headsets.
"That's how high schoolers communicate," Taylor said. "To be able to communicate and get that feeling of being included, you're texting all the time."
Students helping with the pledge drive get more than a lesson in the importance of being safe behind the wheel. They also learn planning, organization and social skills, tackling any fears they might have about reaching out to other people to help with a good cause, Breske said.
"We try to teach them how to set deadlines," Breske said. "Learning how to do things for the community."
(c)2013 the La Crosse Tribune (La Crosse, Wis.)
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