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‘Heads Up, Phones Down’ initiative helps Bordentown students spread awareness of dangers of texting and driving

Don’t Text and Drive, Bordentown Wants You Alive.

That motto is the club name created by Erica Wright and her students at Bordentown Regional High School to spread awareness about the dangers of texting and driving throughout the Bordentown community.

Wright and her students have been featured on NJTV News and Classroom Close-Up NJ in the past for their efforts on bringing more attention to this occurrence that has affected many drivers around the country.

A health and physical education teacher, Wright said she felt it was important to create an initiative that explores the dangers and responsibilities that come with driving to the 16- and 17-year-old students in the school who are beginning to drive.

“I wanted to bring awareness to what can happen while texting when driving,” Wright said. “As a teacher, I see many students who get their driver’s license for the first time. I wanted to help them understand it’s important not to pair texting and driving together.”

Since Wright created the club, she and many past and present Bordentown students have found creative ways to spread their initiative throughout the community.

That began with the club releasing two music videos to express the dangers of texting and driving, each involving around 100 students participating to spread the message.

Those videos would each earn around 5,000 views on YouTube and one was even broadcasted by the Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey on its social media platforms.

In September 2020, the club created a new motto to go along with its original slogan “Don’t Text and Drive, Bordentown Wants You Alive”.

The new initiative followed the phrase “Heads Up, Phones Down,” bringing to light the dangers that can come with people constantly looking down at their phone when not just driving, but also when walking and doing other activities in public.

“Whether you are walking or driving, we wanted to put a message out there for people to put their phones down,” Wright said. “There have been incidents that have occurred because a person was looking down at their phone. We want to bring awareness to that and help make Bordentown a safer community.”

To help the club spread its new initiative, Tyler Gentry, a 2021 Bordentown graduate, thought it would be a good idea for the club to partner with a local business to help get out the message.

Gentry contacted his manager at Rita’s Italian Ice & Frozen Custard in the Hillview Plaza about teaming up with the club. The two sides then connected and created a campaign that ran all of last spring.

Coupons for a free kid’s size Italian ice were created by Rita’s and given out by members of the clubs to people in the community who were displaying the “Heads Up, Phones Down” motto.

“They were very generous to help us,” Wright said of Rita’s. “It was very kind of them to take part in this and put the school and our community first.”

Around 50 coupons were distributed, but most importantly, as Wright would say, the message her students were trying to spread in the Bordentown community was heard loud and clear.

Wright said many people in the Bordentown community and local businesses have reached out to her over the last year about helping the club spread the initiative.

Rita’s has even expressed interest in doing the campaign again this spring on a larger scale, Wright added.

Just last week, the New Jersey Education Association posted a video presentation on its social media channels celebrating the work Wright and her students are doing with their “Heads Up, Phones Down” program.

“It was really nice that they were willing to do a story on us and highlight our campaign,” Wright said. “It really put Bordentown on the map and brought to light what we are trying to do.”

Currently, Wright and her 15 students participating in the club this school year are in the process of filming a 30-second public service announcement on the dangers of texting and driving that will be released sometime this spring.

From “Don’t Text and Drive, Bordentown Wants You Alive” to “Heads Up, Phones Down,” the different slogans and actions her students take each year to raise awareness on the dangers of texting and driving continue to amaze Wright.

“I didn’t expect this club to spark this much interest from students to find new ways to help out each year,” she said. “It’s been very fun to see.”

 

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