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Great Hang Up: Student video wins national award | News

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Great Hang Up: Student video wins national award
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Winter Haven, Florida -- If you have teenagers, the last thing you want them to do is act out.  But acting out--and acting out loud--earned some teenagers in Polk County a national award.

An anti-texting and driving vide from Winter Haven High School's BDTV (Blue Devil Television) was selected as a Judge's Award winner in the Act Out Loud contest--sponsored by the Allstate Foundation and the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS.)  The award came with a $5000 prize.

"It didn't really matter about winning, just getting the word out," said Winter Haven High senior Jessica Bickel, who came up with the idea for the winning video.  "When we found out we actually won, I was like, 'Oh, that's so exciting!'"

The students' video shares stories and photos of distracted driving accidents--as a way to convince teenagers to put down their phones when they're behind the wheel.

"I think a lot of people here at Winter Haven text and drive," said Bickel.  "Some of my friends, I'll sit in the car with them and they'll pull out their phone.  And I'm like: 'I'm sitting in the car! Why are you texting and driving right now?'"

BDTV's video was one of just eleven schools across the country to win awards in the Act Out Loud contest--and the only one in Fllrida.  Younger drivers tend to have a higher rate of distraction-related crashes.  Peer-to-peer education efforts may be more effective in lowering those numbers.

"They know how to associate with each other," said Allstate Agent Kyle Smith.  "Usually when an adult says it, it's from an authoritarian point of view. But the children talk to each other in real terms."

BDTV's television production teacher Pam Mizelle gave the kids the Act Out Loud assignment--after learning about the contest.  She knew the video could make a difference at Winter Haven High.

"Kids think they're infallible," said Mizelle.  "They think that--you know what, nothing's going to happen to them. And when they saw these pictures of car accidents, it's like wow!"

The students hope their video will encourage teens to avoid distractions and keep their eyes on the road.  It already seems to be working.

"They were shocked by some of the accidents that were caused by texting and driving," said senior Jessica Bickel.  "It just made them think twice before pulling their phone out to text while driving."

The students at Winter Haven High won the award for the 2011 Act Out Loud contest.  This year's contest is already underway.  Schools and organizations can submit videos through January 14th.  You can learn more about the contest at the Act Out Loud website.

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