A new children’s picture book about a very special STOP/ GO roadworker is setting the scene for some important road safety conversations in schools this week.
Beca is proudly supporting Brake, the road safety charity, with Road Safety Week, as co-headline sponsor alongside Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency. This year's theme Road Safety Heroes celebrates those who work to make our roads safer including road engineers, road safety professionals, emergency services and campaigners.
It’s a great fit with the latest children’s book by award-winning New Zealand author Jennifer Beck, titled My Mum is Queen of the Road or Ko tōku Māmā te Kuini o te Rori in the Te Reo Māori version.
Told from the perspective of a young boy, Ari, building a road in the sandpit with his friend, Isabella, the story highlights Ari's mum's job as a traffic management worker and her role in keeping her whānau, colleagues and community safe.
Published by Huia Publishers and beautifully illustrated by Lisa Allen, it aligns with the Road Safety Week message that everyone has a part to play when it comes to making our roads safer.
Beca's Andrea Rickard, General Manager – Transport & Infrastructure, says Beca has purchased 600 copies of the book and donated packs of four books, two in English and two in Te Reo, to 150 primary schools around the country ahead of Road Safety Week.
"Then, during Road Safety Week, a number of schools will host a Storytime session with a difference when people working in the area of road safety at Beca and one of our Brake, Waka Kotahi or contractor friends will visit the school to read the book to students," Andrea says.
"We'll chat with tamariki about why road safety is an important topic for all of us, and what being a ‘road safety hero’ means to them. We're excited about this opportunity to share My Mum is Queen of the Road and take our own professional insights on road safety directly to tomorrow's road safety heroes."
Kane Patena, Waka Kotahi Director of Land Transport, says Road Safety Week is about helping raise awareness of road safety and how everyone plays a role in keeping people safe on the roads, a key element of Road to Zero, Aotearoa's road safety strategy.
"Roadworkers are mums, dads, brothers, sisters and friends and we want every one of them to get home safely to their whānau at the end of each shift," he says.
"We're looking forward to getting into schools to read this story and shine a light on a very special Mum who works on the road to keep her workmates and all road users safe. It'll encourage conversations about road safety in homes as well as classrooms, and support our Road to Zero message that 'it takes everyone to get to no-one'."
Caroline Perry, NZ director of Brake, welcomed the initiative which sees many book packs distributed to schools that have registered for Road Safety Week activities through the organisation's website.
"All children and young people use roads so learning about road safety is important, and the subject of this book is a great way to engage children, as well as fitting perfectly with the theme for this year's Road Safety Week," she says.
"My Mum is Queen of the Road is not just a great companion resource to the information we're already providing, it's a beautiful story that children will enjoy reading for many years to come."
Author Jennifer Beck, who will visit an Auckland school with illustrator Lisa Allen during Road Safety Week, says the idea for the story came one day when she was surprised to see that the person holding up a STOP / GO sign was a woman.
"I thought, that's not an easy job, especially on cold and rainy days, and when some motorists could get grumpy having to wait. All jobs are important, and she is helping keep the workers safe," Jennifer explains.
"It's not easy to be a working Mum, and I wondered if her children appreciated the work she was doing. And so Ari in the story tells his friend Isabella that his Mum is like a Queen. His friend learns that to be special a Mum doesn't have to wear a crown or sparkly jewels. Her throne can be an orange road cone, turned upside-down."