MOTORING NEWS

In 2021 over 1320 children died on SA roads, but that will now change thanks to the Suzuki SA’s partnership

SUZUKI Auto South Africa is continuing to establish itself as the premier automotive brand in South Africa to champion road safety.

The brand has partnered with road safety champions, Wheel Well, to purchase and distribute hundreds of warm beanies with reflector bands to children in rural KwaZulu-Natal.

“Children are disproportionately affected by accidents. Besides the clear risk to themselves, especially those who walk to school in the dark every day, many children are left without a parent or caretaker owing to road accidents,” says Brendon Carpenter, Brand Marketing Manager of Suzuki South Africa.

In 2021, 1 320 children died as pedestrians in road safety accidents and many more were hurt in hit-and-run incidents.

To help counteract this problem, Suzuki South Africa has partnered with Wheel Well on its Halo Beanies project. It will hand out 816 reflective beanies at Enkelabantwana Primary and Ndebeni Primary in the Bulwer area in KwaZulu-Natal.

Suzuki is no stranger to these schools as the group delivered age-appropriate reading material and teacher-training tools to the schools in February as part of the Rally to Read initiative.

Wheel Well, an NPO that passionately campaigns for the road safety of children through various projects, has been running its Halo Beanies project since 2017 and has up to now distributed 3 200 ready-made beanies and material for thousands more.

The NPO offers two options for potential supporters of this campaign. The beanies can either be bought ready-made to be distributed, or the wool, knitting pattern and reflective yarn can be purchased at a third of the cost. With the latter option, grandmothers in the targeted communities are then mobilised to knit the beanies.

In the past, Wheel Well has explored the feasibility of other reflective products such as sashes and backpacks with reflective straps but found that when the children were out playing, these were removed, leaving the children vulnerable.

The children do, however, love the beanie and even wear them when playing. Beanies are also worn at the highest noticeable point on the child and serves as extra warmth on cold mornings when rural children often have to walk long distances to school.

Wheel Well has also been lauded for its multi-faceted Car Seat for Kids initiative, which has been running for the past 10 years. With this initiative, the road safety advocates collect old car seats, clean and refurbish them and then redistribute them to parents who cannot afford new car seats.

Says Peggie Mars, the founder of Wheel Well: “We care for the safety of children of all ages. The Halo Beanie project is a worthwhile addition to our work on child safety in cars, and child seats and partners like Suzuki have made it possible to expand their use across South Africa.”

Anyone who would like to support the noble Halo Beanie initiative can visit the Wheel Well website at https://wheelwell.co.za

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