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Fundación MAPFRE rewards an innovative project that turns young people into road safety activists

“Injuries from traffic accidents are the main cause of death among young people worldwide. Every day the lives of more than 1,000 young people are cut short and thousands more are injured on the roads. These figures will continue to grow in the majority of regions unless we take urgent action.” 

This was the dramatic message conveyed today by Floor Lieshout, Director of Youth for Road Safety (YOURS), at the 2014 SOCIAL AWARDS ceremony. Granted annually by Fundación MAPFRE, the awards distinguish people or institutions for outstanding achievements that benefit society as a whole in the fields of science, culture and the humanities. 

H.M. Queen Sofía presented the “Best Initiative in Prevention and Road Safety” award, which recognizes the significant contribution made by the aforementioned organization to the prevention and reduction of traffic accidents. As the European institution pointed out, it is not only figures and statistics behind these accidents, but “many families, friends and stories that reveal just how quickly a person’s life can change after suffering a tragic accident”. 

In 2009, faced with this reality and in the hope of achieving “zero tolerance” and making training more accessible, especially where it was most needed, YOURS launched “Youth Capacity Development”, the initiative for which it has won the award and which consists in something that is quite simple yet very effective: turning young people themselves into the protagonists, into prevention and road safety activists.

Awarded 30,000 euros, the project revolves around three focus areas: increasing awareness among young people about the importance of road safety; encouraging their active participation in accident prevention campaigns; and developing their skills so that they can implement best practices in this area. 

The innovative methodology consists of training delivered by young people themselves, many of them volunteers, and active learning. Trained, committed people work with the program participants through informal, entertaining and interactive activities like role play, group exercises, games and simulations to promote effective learning. 

One of the keys to the program’s success is the fact that young people with real experience deliver the training and do so in their own language. This encourages the beneficiaries to participate actively, alters their behavior and increases their level of commitment. 

At the ceremony the Director of Youth for Road Safety (YOURS) said that it was an “enormous privilege to accept this distinguished award granted by such a respected organization as Fundación MAPFRE, leader in this field and an esteemed fellow member of the United Nations Road Safety Collaboration. We are delighted to receive this important recognition for all the hard work we have done in the past years.” 

YOURS was founded under the auspices of the World Youth Assembly for Road Safety, held in 2007, at which more than 400 young people from more than 100 countries met to discuss the global road safety crisis and how they themselves could contribute to the solution. 

The project was officially launched in 2009 during the opening ceremony of the First Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety, held in Moscow, and since then the organization has continued its efforts to reduce traffic accidents, especially among young people who, along with children and the elderly, represent one of the most vulnerable groups of people. 

The award ceremony, held in Madrid, was also attended by Susana Camarero, Secretary of State for Social Services and Equality, and Antonio Huertas, President of Fundación MAPFRE. The event was also attended by leading figures from the social, cultural, political and business world.

For more information: www.salaprensa.fundacionmapfre.org

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