Teens attend retreat promoting safe driving

Published 6:48 pm Friday, August 5, 2022

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More than 80 Virginia teens representing schools and youth groups from across the Commonwealth, including Franklin High School, arrived at James Madison University July 14 for the 2022 YOVASO Summer Leadership Retreat — “YOVASO Safari: Leading the Pack for Safe Teen Driving.” 

A July 14 news release from Youth of Virginia Speak Out About Traffic Safety noted that the four-day, three-night retreat offered a variety of educational and hands-on activities designed for teens who want to learn how to be safer drivers and passengers, as well as teens who want to train as leaders for youth traffic safety. 

The Summer Leadership Retreat is sponsored by YOVASO, Virginia State Police, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and State Farm Insurance.

A July 20 YOVASO social media post stated that the 2022 annual leadership retreat was a huge success. More than 120 students and adult leaders participated in the event at JMU on July 14-17. 

The annual retreat prepares teens to work in peer-to-peer programs in their schools or through community youth groups to promote safe teen driving and help prevent motor vehicle crashes among teens.

The social media post continued by noting that highlights of this year’s retreat included the motivational speaker Fletcher Cleaves on “The Sky is Not the Limit;” a live simulated crash and mock trauma bay presented by VCU Health’s Project IMPACT; a multimedia TjohnE Trivia Game Show; and workshops on public speaking and the power of advocacy. Teens also participated in interactive safety experiences by the American Trucking Association; the Virginia Department of Transportation on work zone safety; Operation Lifesaver on railroad safety; and the VSP’s Crash Reconstruction Team, K-9 Unit and Distracted Driving Simulators; and more. Teens also enjoyed a variety of interactive, team-building social events, including a glow stick game, talent show and The Amazing Race, “Safari” style.

“We’re excited to be back in-person for YOVASO’s Summer Leadership Retreat after not being able to meet for two years,” said Molly Jackson, retreat director, in the July 14 release. “The retreat provides a fun and educational experience for all teens, whether they are looking to be safer drivers, learn leadership skills, get involved in community service opportunities or prepare for future careers.”  

The retreat concluded with an awards banquet to recognize students, schools, youth groups and law enforcement for their dedicated and outstanding efforts during the 2021-22 school year to prevent teen-related traffic crashes and fatalities on Virginia highways.

YOVASO is Virginia’s Peer-to-Peer Education and Prevention Program for Teen Driver and Passenger Safety. YOVASO is a program of VSP and is funded by highway safety grants from the Virginia DMV. Program membership is free and open to all Virginia high schools, middle schools and youth groups. YOVASO currently has 90 active member schools and youth groups.