Winners of Battle of the Belt Challenge to be Honored

It pays to buckle up, and two southwest Missouri schools who paved the way in the latest Battle of the Belt challenge are cashing in.

The Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety campaign ran from Oct. 1 to Nov. 8, encouraging seat belt use among Missouri teens in exchange for cash and prizes. Surprise checks were conducted at participating high schools before and after students took part in an educational campaign. Students could also create their own 30-second public service announcements.

The big winner in the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT)’s Southwest District was Blue Eye High School, which won the categories of Highest Overall Seat Belt Use and Most Improved Seat Belt Use. In fact, 31 percent more students began buckling up as a result of the challenge, giving the school a 98.57 percent participation rate. To celebrate, Joe Rickman, MoDOT district traffic engineer and chair, along with the Mercy Injury Prevention Center, will award students with a silver Battle of the Belt banner and four $500 checks during a school assembly at 11:45 a.m. Tuesday, March 18. The money, provided by American Family Insurance and Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety, will be used for future seat belt education.

Thirty miles north, students at Reeds Spring High School were honored for winning the category of Best PSA. MoDOT representatives and the Mercy Injury Prevention Center presented Reeds Spring students with a plaque and $300 check during an assembly at the school. Watch the video above.

Also in the region, Purdy and Cassville students placed second and third, respectively, on Most Improved Seat Belt Use. Purdy High School saw a 17 percent increase in involvement while 11.5 percent more students began buckling up at Cassville High School. Because both schools’ performance exceeded 90 percent, they’ll each receive bronze Battle of the Belt banners, courtesy of the Missouri College of Emergency Physicians. MoDOT's Rickman will travel to Cassville High School at 3 p.m. Monday, March 24, to present students with their banner.

Battle of the Belt was originally brought to southwest Missouri by the Missouri Emergency Nurses Association and Mercy Hospital (then St. John's). In 2006, the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety, in conjunction with American Family Insurance and the MO College of Emergency Room Physicians, took the competition statewide and continues to sponsor the program.

Eight schools in MoDOT’s Southwest District took part in the Battle of the Belt challenge. Blue Eye High School is located at 658 State Highway EE in Blue Eye, Mo. Reeds Spring High School is located at 20277 Missouri 413 in Reeds Spring, Mo. The media is invited to attend either assembly.

Follow the Mercy Injury Prevention Center on Facebook or Twitter (@IPCMercy) for safety tips and information.

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