When most people think about motorsports and the auto industry, girls dressed in white uniforms do not readily come to mind; however, the students at the all-girls Immaculate Conception High School, in St Andrew, have welcomed the Jamaica Automobile Association (JAA) Junior Club with open arms since its introduction in September 2013.
The club is growing, with more than 30 members, who are on a mission to leave their mark on the school community with a series of high impact initiatives to heighten the profile of road safety advocacy and motorsports among students.
Club President, Camilla Rennie, an upper 6th form student says, “The response to the club has been overwhelming, especially among the students in the lower grades who are eager to learn and open to the idea of what the club is about.”
She also indicated that, “The older girls are a bit hesitant; however, once they get a chance to experience the club and participate in the activities they gradually become enthused.”
The JAA Junior Club at Immaculate is one of approximately 60 clubs that currently operate in high schools across the country, since 2013. The objective of the club is to assist in building awareness among students about the importance of road safety advocacy, in their schools and the wider community, while providing them with new insight into the world of motor sports and the automotive industry.
JAA Junior Clubs are an initiative of the JAA, in collaboration with the Jamaica National Building Society Foundation, JN General Insurance Company (JNGI), The Ministry of Education, the FIA Foundation and the FIA Road Safety Grant Programme.
Carese Murphy, faculty advisor to the club, indicates that, “There has been overwhelming interest from students who want to learn how to drive, while others indicated that they would like to know more about the motor sport racing industry and traffic laws,” adding that “there are also those who are interested in knowing more about being safe road users.”
During the annual fair held at the school in December 2014 the club provided go-kart rides to attendees, an activity which was a hit among the students.
President Camilla said that the go-karts were used to “Increase the visibility of the club in a fun and interesting way, which would engage students, especially the younger ones who would otherwise have little interest in road safety. Additionally, the go-karts were a source of fundraising for future projects.”
Miss Murphy admitted that since the annual fair, interest in the club has increased; and members sought to capitalize on this by also participating in an Open Day, held at the school in February.
“The Open Day also provided a platform to create greater awareness about the club among students and their parents about its purpose and objectives,” the President emphasised.
During the Open Day, students were able to sign up for driving lessons at the JAA Driving Academy and were also able to view the safety features of new Honda CRV motor car which was on display courtesy of a partnership with ATL Motors Limited.
Already the club executive is planning to shift its road safety advocacy efforts into high gear with the hosting of a JAA Week of activities, which will expose students to several road safety activities.
“The members of the JAA Club will participate in hands-on road safety demonstrations and will actually be directing traffic around the school one morning. And, one of our upcoming events will be a school campaign under pillar number four of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety – Road User Behaviour,” Camilla pointed out.
The JAA Club at Immaculate High will also be seeking to adopt the Shortwood Practising School as an outreach project, to further boost its community presence.