The Keeping Memories Alive (KMA) Foundation has been awarded $42,000 by the Jefferson Memorial Community Foundation to help offer a
safe driving awareness program in 11 public high schools in Jefferson County as well as at Jefferson Community College.
The grant represents the expansion of an aggressive effort by the KMA Foundation to ensure that young drivers are aware of important safe driving habits.
"We don’t want young people to lose their lives on area roadways, and sometimes it takes a dynamic program to get their attention and pledge to drive safer," says KMA Foundation president Shawn Archambault. "Toward that end, we are using these grant funds to partner with the 'Save a Life Tour' to bring an interactive educational program into area schools focused on the dangers of impaired or distracted driving."
Archambault lost his daughter Kaela Marie when she died in a traffic accident in Jefferson County, MO, in 2010. Following her death, he established the KMA Foundation to focus on three efforts—honor the memory of loved ones who died in traffic accidents; advocate for safer roads and increase safe driving awareness among teens and young adults.
Among KMA's most successful efforts is its One Curve At A Time initiative, which used grass roots advocacy to increase awareness of dangerous roads in the region and enhance enforcement of speed limits. In 2014, those advocacy efforts resulted in the Missouri Department of Transportation completing $1.8 million in road safety improvements along Highway FF where Kaela Archambault died. For his organization’s efforts, Shawn was awarded the 2014 Statewide Arrive Alive Award, presented by the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety.
To honor the memory of loved ones lost, the KMA Foundation established high school scholarships at several area high schools. It was that immersion into the schools and the connections with regional and state road safety organizations that made Archambault realize that more could be done to make area roads safer and teenagers more aware of safe driving habits. He formed KMA's Take the Pledge program, which involves students participating in a hands-on program and then signing a banner and a pledge card to be a safer driver by
Take the Pledge was piloted at St. Clair High School in 2013. The grant from the Jefferson Memorial Community Foundation enables KMA to support not
only its own Take the Pledge program but also bring in the interactive Save a Life Tour to 11 Jefferson County schools and Jefferson Community College.
"Here are the facts about why we are approaching high school and college students with these programs," says Archambault. "One in five Missouri traffic accidents in 2012 involved a young driver under the age of 21. During a six-year period from 2009 to 2014, there were 795 deaths and 7,571 serious injuries in crashes were Missouri teenagers age 15-20 were involved. The reality is that teenagers don’t realize the real-life impact of distracted driving. We want to show them what can happen by bringing in the Save a Life Tours with us."
The Save A Life Tour is offered across the United States and visually showcases the effects of drunk or drugged driving as well as distracted driving. It dramatically illustrates the real and often fatal consequences of poor choices that can be made while driving distracted or under the influence.
"We’re hoping to see actual results with reduced traffic accidents and injuries," adds Archambault. "We also are pushing for more grants so that we can broaden our reach of Take the Pledge into several more counties. It is our hope that with strong support, we can offer a program in every high school in the state of Missouri - and beyond."
The KMA Foundation is focused on real results. Since September 11, 2011 when the One Curve At A Time program and advocacy effort began, through the fall of 2016, there have been zero fatalities along Highway FF.
"We’ve moved beyond tackling one curve at a time along Highway FF and are now focused on reaching one school at a time," says Archambault. "I think Kaela is happy watching over us and knows that we continue to make a difference and are reaching out in new and larger ways each year."