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SSL: Don’t take this message lightly

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By Tom Wilmoth

    SSL. Maybe you’ve seen it posted at an a Centertown business.

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    Anybody wondering what it meant?
    Students at Liberty High School hope so. Because they want you to know—and they want you to stay safe.
    As part of its campaign to keep fellow students and others safe on the roads, the LHS YOVASO (Youth of Virginia Speak Out) group has been dropping SSL’s all over town. This week, they answered the question as to what message they wanted to get across.
    That message: Seatbelts Save Lives.
    The LHS YOVASO group has been competing with other schools in Virginia during this campaign season, according to LHS sponsor Krissy Alphin. In the current campaign teams are judged based on their weekly activities for the three-week event, along with a creative project. 
    “Realizing that traffic crashes are the leading cause of deaths among teenagers, our YOVASO team decided to focus on seatbelt safety as our main issue, and we designed our project to invoke suspense,” Alphin said.
    So around campus for the past two weeks, students have come to school to find the sidewalks and parking lots covered with SSL.
    No one was told just what it meant. The goal was to generate interest.
    And the effort didn’t stop there. Students also went into Centertown and asked several business owners to put the signs up in their storefront.
    But that wasn’t all.
    Students at LHS have been doing much more as part of their campaign.
    “We have been doing seatbelt checks each week,” Alphin said.
    And there was a seatbelt spirit day on Friday where students were encouraged to design and wear a seatbelt made of duct tape.
    “We have covered the school with posters and hope that we can get through to our student body the importance of buckling up,” Alphin said. Several students involved with the LHS group also painted a large YOVASO sign in a center court area of the school.
    Senior A.J. Miller, co-president of the YOVASO group at LHS, said she just wants to help keep her classmates safe out on the road. “Please buckle up,” she said. “It’s the most important thing.”
    The LHS club has about 40 YOVASO members. Alphin said the goal of the campaign was to bring awareness to both the school’s students and the community.
    “Traffic crashes are the number one cause of death for teenagers,” she said. And many times the teens involved in those crashes didn’t have their seatbelt on.
    Last week’s effort at the school included having students sign pledges to wear their seatbelts, along with having teachers read statistics about accidents each day.
    Alphin said during her second year of teaching,  a student she taught, who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, died in a traffic crash. That helped her understand the impact such a loss can have on the family and friends of a teenager.
    And so the effort, and its message: SSL—Seatbelts Save Lives.