FAIRBORN — Since the beginning of the Greene County Safe Communities Seat Belt Challenge, no school had received a 100 percent compliance until last spring, and that same school, Fairborn High School, has now done it three times in a row.
Part of this success is from the work and investment of Fairborn Police Officer Jim Hern, who serves as a school resource officer (SRO) for Fairborn High School. The secret to the success according to Hern is repetition and student involvement.
“The students are 100 percent in being involved and getting behind the challenge and changing the environment students have had in seatbelt usage,” Hern said.
Each day, Hern goes out to the parking lot as school dismisses and stands where every vehicle has to pass him. Students are aware that if they aren’t wearing a seatbelt, he will stop them to put it on.
“Students know the drill,” Hern said. “I will even have some students stop if they see me speaking to someone and wait to show me they are belted.”
School administration started the seat belt awareness with some small incentives which included free subs from Subway. Now, it is a matter of repetition.
“What I am most proud of is that recently I haven’t been able to be out there everyday to remind students due to a number of other activities going on in the schools and, yet, we still got 100 percent compliance,” Hern said. “Seat belts save lives, and if they learn at a young level, as they grow, it will become a habit that they will pass along to their kids as well.”
Hern believes in investing in the students. He tries to go to all the high school events: academic, musical, girls and boys sports. He also connects with students through his Twitter account and posts positive info for and about the kids.
“I show the kids that I am interested in them and they reciprocate; they also want me to do well,” Hern said. “The kids really care.”
Funds earned from the awards go directly to the schools. Fairborn High School plans to use funds for security improvements.
The Greene County Safe Communities Seat Beat Challenge happens twice each year and places local schools against one another to see which school has the highest percentage of seat belt usage when students leave school. The Greene County Health Department sends a representative to the schools who goes out independently and checks the students as they leave. When done, they rank schools based on their percentage of compliance.
For more information on Greene County Public Health and safety programs, visit www.gcchd.org.
Story courtesy of the City of Fairborn.