Santa and his helpers are making a few extra early stops in Leeds to deliver a very special present to primary school pupils.
Throughout December, the council’s safe and sustainable travel team are visiting schools across Leeds to educate and entertain pupils with their road safety pantomime, ‘The Gift of Life’. With the help of Santa, Rudolph and other festive friends, schoolchildren are being reminded about all aspects of road safety from being able to cross the road safely as a pedestrian, to wearing a seatbelt and a bike helmet.
The pantomime follows Santa, Rudolph and Scary Mary the Christmas Fairy as they share key road safety messages, such as ‘think, stop, look listen’ and ‘be bright, be seen’, making it a memorable way for young minds to grasp the importance of safe behaviours near roads.
Santa and his helpers captivate the schoolchildren with comedy and classic pantomime audience participation, ensuring that the valuable road safety lessons are not only educational but also enjoyable.
Somewhat of a Christmas tradition, the road safety trainers have been going into schools for the past 20 years to spread cheer and life-saving lessons. The script has evolved only slightly to account for updates in technology, with references to Santa’s new smartphone.
Leeds City Council’s executive member for sustainable development and infrastructure, Councillor Helen Hayden, said:
“It’s fantastic to see pupils engaging with road safety in a fun and festive way. As we celebrate the holiday season, it’s important to remember that each of us bears a responsibility for how we drive in our local community – we need to make a conscious effort to prioritise safety and look out for one another.
“Leeds City Council has a longstanding ambition to educate every road user about how to use roads responsibly as mentioned in our Vision Zero 2040 strategy, the ambition is that by 2040 no one will be killed or suffer serious injuries on roads in Leeds.
“The pupils were so enchanted by the pantomime, I’ve no doubt that they’ll tell their parents all about it and remind them of the important road safety messages that the team shared. I’m proud of our fantastic road safety trainers and so impressed by their dedication to educating children about road safety, their enthusiasm and passion truly shone through in their performance.”
Road Safety Trainer and performer in the pantomime, Jake Reed, said:
“Seeing the pupils’ faces light up when they see Santa and Rudolph and getting them involved with the pantomime is so rewarding. It’s a little bit different to the day job where I provide pedestrian and scooter training, but I look forward to it every year as I know how important it is to get pupils engaging with road safety messages.”
While teaching children about road safety is an important aspect of keeping them safe near roads, the council have put in place more proactive measures in order to encourage responsible driving. Lower speed limits of 20mph have been implemented as part of a city-wide programme, particularly in residential areas, and Speed Indication Devices (SIDs) are regularly deployed by the council in local communities and schools.
Raising awareness about road safety and tackling antisocial driving behaviours is crucial as the number of children killed or seriously injured (KSI) in road collisions in 2022 increased by 40% compared to 2017-2019.
As the festive season approaches, it’s important for individuals to reflect on their own driving behaviours to ensure everyone gets home safe for Christmas.
This post is based on a press release issued by Leeds City Council
Photo: Mascot Kerby using the new zebra crossing outside Ingram Road Primary School in Holbeck
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