Turning surplus high visibility PPE into children’s mascots to improve night time visibility in rural Belarus

Belarus, Children's Road Safety, News

In Belarus, the majority of road traffic collisions involving children occur after 4pm – when it starts getting dark. Wearing bright and reflective clothing can be lifesaving as it increases the distance from which drivers can see children from 30 metres up to 180 metres, allowing them the time to react, slow down, and stop safely.

In Belarus, with the support of a grant by FedEx Express Europe, we have been working with EASST partner the Belarusian Auto Moto Touring Club (BKA) and the Belarusian Association of Assistance to Children and Young People with Disabilities (BelAPDIiMI) to turn old high visibility PPE into ‘mascots’ or tags for school book bags and children’s coats to promote visibility and safety on the roads.

The project has involved working closely with the ‘Road To Life’ social enterprise in the town of Stolin in southern Belarus, who exclusively employ people with disabilities. Ten of their employees have been working throughout the summer to turn over 150 items of surplus high-visibility clothing and materials donated by Kier Group in the UK into 1,000 child-friendly mascots.

“We feel very lucky to participate in this project as it has helped us provide our employees with work during this difficult time … We are very grateful for this collaboration and we hope that it will be continued in the future.”

Malvina Vidritskay, Director of ‘Road To Life’

As we enter the Autumn and Winter, the BKA are now traveling around rural areas of Belarus, where night time visibility is especially poor, to hand out mascots at local schools and hold road safety education sessions raising children’s awareness of the importance of visibility on the roads.* These sessions launched last month in Stolin where a special event was held for families and children with disabilities using the EASST Road Safety Education Pack. By the end of the year, the BKA will have reached 500 children across the country. The next phase of the project, starting in 2021, will see this work scaled up. Targeting older age groups and engaging them in issues of visibility, the BKA will be working young people from BelAPDIiMI and students from the Elen Fashion School to design high-visibility accessories that will be put into production by Road To Life.

“This project is one of several incredibly worthwhile projects that FedEx Express has sponsored to be undertaken by EASST and its partners. As a business, we are laser focused on road safety operationally, but we also take great pride in being able to support road safety initiatives in communities through our charity collaborations,”

said Rock Sherman, Vice President Road Network Europe, FedEx Express.

“Projects like this – arming young children with a reflective item to wear during dark roadside journeys – seem so simple on the face of it, but shouldn’t be underestimated in terms of their lifesaving potential. It’s important that these activities continue to be made possible in communities and that road safety education continues to reach our most vulnerable young pedestrians.”

*In line with COVID-19 guidance, all of our activities are socially distanced and where possible face masks are worn to ensure the safety of all participants.