Kaela Malig (Rappler)
MANILA, Philippines – Many Filipino children, clad in their school uniforms and polished black shoes, walk or commute daily to go to school – even as speeding vehicles travel alongside them.
From 2006 to 2014 alone, an average of 671 Filipino children died each year due to road crashes, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.
The World Health Organization also said road crash injuries are among the top causes of death for children.
Hoping to address this issue, Safe Kids Worldwide Philippines (SKWP), a global non-governmental organization dedicated to the prevention of unintentional injuries to children, celebrated the 10th anniversary of National Safe Kids Week last June 22 with the theme “#SaveKidsLives: School-Home-Road.”
The group aims to help save lives by raising awareness of road safety in schools and in homes.
Safer roads for children
National Safe Kids Week is a special event that occurs every 3rd week of June by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 1307. It was created to address the prevention of child traumatic injuries, including ones that result from road crashes.
The 10th anniversary of National Safe Kids Week was celebrated last June 18 to 24, and SKWP, recognized as a stakeholder, invited its partner schools and organizations to gather at the SM Sky Dome in Quezon City to mark the occasion.
For this year’s National Safe Kids Week, SKWP president Dr Jocelyn Yambao-Franco said they chose to focus on 3 main goals: education, enforcement, and engineering.
Yambao-Franco said that through education, students are more aware of pedestrian rules; through proper enforcement of road rules by authorities, fewer road crashes will occur; and through good design and engineering of roads, injuries can be avoided.
“Usually we start with schools, so the children will know how to walk to and from the schools… So they know to walk on the pedestrian lanes, and walk properly on the sidewalks,” Yambao-Franco said.
SKWP partnered with government agencies as well, including the Department of Public Works and Highways, to help create directional sides and paint pedestrian lanes.
National Safe Kids Week also served as a follow-up event to the 4th United Nations Global Road Safety Week that encouraged vehicles to slow down and save lives.
Representatives of government agencies and partner organizations attended the event, as well as elementary public school students and teachers from Quezon City, Parañaque, Pasay, and Pampanga.