Summer is typically a busy time for traffic safety educators from AAA Northeast, who run outreach programs at conferences, schools, community centers and youth camps. And despite the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s programs will continue virtually.
Online platforms are not only a new resource to reach more students and adults, they also provide an opportunity to create more content and get more comfortable doing virtual presentations.
“I’ve been wanting to get our program offerings more consistent,” said Diana Imondi, senior manager of public affairs. “The issue is, we’re not always available in New York, New Jersey or Connecticut. Now with the virtual platform, we can be anywhere. So, there’s a lot more collaboration across our states and we can help each other out.”
Imondi and public affairs specialists Joanna Frageorgia and Cassidy Dubie O’Connor make up the Providence traffic safety team. They lead programs such as Shifting Gears, the high school health curriculum created to teach about the dangers of marijuana use and driving. They also run workshops on child passenger, pedestrian and bicycle safety. They have worked with local schools and libraries to set up virtual presentations for children this summer
O’Connor says adjusting to virtual presentations has helped her and Joanna come up with more creative methods of teaching. Joanna recently did a traffic safety singalong program on the AAA Northeast Instagram page, taking traditional children’s songs and changing them to traffic safety songs like “Twinkle Twinkle Traffic Light.”
The idea to create online traffic safety programs began as events were being canceled a few months ago. The Public Affairs team realized there would soon be a need for virtual presentations to replace their in-person trips. Diana says the silver lining is, now that travel isn’t required, more people will be able to access traffic safety resources.
“There are more people who can attend, and we’re able to engage more speakers because geography and transit are not an issue,” Imondi said. “It’s been a crash course for a lot of the folks in Public Affairs. Learning editing software, lighting and just how to get all of this done in this environment has been great.”
The Providence team is looking forward to presenting together with traffic safety educators in other states, including in virtual presentations for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts who are working toward badges.
“Collaborating with each other across states has been one of the best parts,” O’Connor said.
For more information on the AAA Northeast community outreach programs, visit AAA.com/Community.