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Chicago High School Student Wins Grand Prize In Toyota Teendrive365 Video Challenge

By Author: Stella Morris
Total Articles: 5

One of the coolest, yet extremely dangerous times in a teen's life is when they learn to drive. According to the National Safety Council, the most hazardous year of a teenager's life is the one right after they get their license. With car crashes as the leading cause of death among teenagers in the U.S., actions such as texting or talking on the phone, or chatting to other people in the car, can lead to danger. Even just a lack of experience driving can be detrimental when behind the wheel.

Thankfully, Chicago high school student Elijah Wilborn left his phone, music and other distractions curbside when he picked up the grand prize in Toyota's TeenDrive365 Video Challenge. Toyota brought this growing problem to light because they believe that teens have the power and vision to inspire each other, sometimes even more than a teacher or parent.

Elijah’s video was chosen out of more than 1,000 submissions for its humorous, imaginative take on the distractions that teens face every day behind the wheel. The PSA was chosen by a panel of judges from both Toyota and Discovery Education, the leading provider of digital content and professional development for K-12 classrooms.

The video portrays a teenager attempting to navigate his morning routine of driving to school while being beset by a range of all too common distractions – represented by other teens in t-shirts reading “ego,” “radio,” "phone” and more. As the distractions build to a crescendo, the teen finally exclaims from behind the wheel, “everybody out!” and literally drops them off on the curb.

Michael Rouse, President of the Toyota USA Foundation, expressed how Elijah’s PSA addressed driving safety with creativity, humor and a clear-eyed view of the distractions that face drivers of all ages. “We offer him our heartfelt congratulations and are proud to help share his vision for encouraging other teens to drive more safely,” he added.

The fact that The TeenDrive365 initiative helps to keep students safe on the road through engaging digital resources and experiences is what drew Bill Goodwyn to the program. Goodwyn, who is the President and CEO of Discovery Education, believes in encouraging smart choices behind the wheel stating “We are honored to stand alongside Toyota in congratulating Elijah and the rest of this year’s winners for their creativity, innovative thinking, and dedication to positively influencing the behavior of their peers.”

"On behalf of the entire Mount Carmel community, I proudly congratulate Elijah on his production of an exceptional safe driving video,” said John Stimler, Principal, Mount Carmel High School. “We are impressed with his efforts to generate excitement among students nationwide about this topic. With his hard work and creativity he will empower his peers to have conversations about teen driver safety."

A student at George School in Newtown, PA, Demi Straulino, won second place and will receive $10,000. She will also get a behind-the-scenes trip to a live show taping on the Velocity network Karina Vazquez, Joseph Salazar, Daniel Harte, and Jordan Bjorklund, all students at Antioch Unified School District’s Deer Valley High School in Antioch, CA, will receive $7,500 for third place. They also won the People’s Choice Award, which was determined by an online vote, and will therefore receive an additional $5,000 cash prize as well as a behind-the-scenes trip to a taping of a Velocity network show.

The Video Challenge was recently named a winner in the annual Communitas Awards, and is one component of Toyota and Discovery Education’s TeenDrive365: In School initiative, an all-inclusive program that offers a range of tools designed specifically for school educators and teens. Resources offered include tools to help teens prepare for the responsibility of driving, such as quizzes, parental discussion points and a financial calculator; classroom resources for educators, including standards-aligned lesson plans for grades 9-12; and Heads UP!, an interactive game which allows teens to virtually experience the real dangers of distracted driving.

The program is part of Toyota's TeenDrive365, a comprehensive initiative to help parents model safer driving behaviors for their children. Building on the programs and resources Toyota has offered for more than a decade, the program offers social media elements as well as expert advice and tips, events, and a collection of online tools. To learn more about the resources offered through Toyota TeenDrive365, go to TeenDrive365.com.

This is the fourth year the video challenge has invited teens across the country to create short PSAs to motivate their friends into taking more caution when behind the wheel.

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