Memories

The Secretary of State for Education has been sharing the idea of bucket lists for primary school children with a national newspaper. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6417919/Childrens-bucket-list-inspired-new-Education-Secretary.html

I found this a particularly poignant story to read today, as I have just returned from the annual presentation of the Safe Drive: Stay Alive campaign to local sixth formers and college students. I didn’t see understanding why road safety or indeed any type of safety is important and how to deal with an emergency in the bucket list, but it should be there, even for primary age children.

The presentation I witnessed this morning, even viewing it for the fourth year in a row as a county councillor, moves me to tears every time that I attend the event. Pupils are taken through a video sequence of a group of young people going to a party in two cars. There is a crash and what happens next is narrated through simple and compelling testimony by emergency staff from the ambulance; fire and the police services, plus an A&E doctor, a parent and a survivor. Finally, there is a video of a prisoner serving a prison sentence for causing death by careless driving.

The images in the video are nowhere near as powerful as the spoken words. Here, a thousand words really does convey more than a single picture, however horrific the image. Sadly, three young people have died on the roads of Oxfordshire so far in 2018, not always their fault. Speed, drink, drugs, a lack of road knowledge and poor weather can affect the driving of anyone and lead to a fatality.

Most young people understand the message about not drinking and driving, but distracting the driver can be just as dangerous. Bucket lists are a great idea for selecting the positive things we want to do in life, but they must not crowd out the time to reflect upon the fact that as human being we live in social groups and have responsibilities to ourselves and others.

This is not the post to discuss whether there is appropriate funding for road and other safety learning for children and young people, but thank the emergency and other services that pick up the pieces when these event happen. The line of helmets on the table at the front of the hall today was a reminder of the teamwork involved and that message is powerfully reinforced by a crutch from a survivor paralysed for life and the flowers for the young person that didn’t come home and never will again.

So let’s encourage young people to climb trees, bake gingerbread and do the many other things Damian Hinds writes about, some of which I have never thought of doing, but let us also remember the purpose of life is not just self-fulfilment, important as that may be, but also because, as John Donne wrote, ‘no man is an island’, we need to learn to understand the consequences of our actions.

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