Old Hickory Night Out

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(All day)

On August 2, families and guests at the Old Hickory Night Out Against Crime Fair were able to meet Tennessee's friendliest safety mascots, Ollie Otter and Sammy Sturgeon. Following this event, Sammy made several more appearances including the Wilson County Fair on August 17th and 18th when Ollie and Sammy were joined by Tenny C. Bear.

All three of the mascots share a special message about safety. The 7ft. tall furry otter, teaches kids about using booster seats until they are 4'9" when the grown-up seat belt will fit them right. The law abiding bear, teaches kids all about safety, from gun safety to stranger dangers. The fish out of water, he wants people to think about getting outside to play, riding in their truck to the lake, woods or park and when they get to the water - Wear it!- that is to say, put on a life jacket when people are on or near the water. The three programs teach the safety messages in order to make our communities a safer place.

The trio was joined by several volunteers working to increase booster seat and seat belt usage among Tennessee's communities. Mack Lunn, Josh Haskins, and Sonni Mackzum shared program information with the families and attendees at the fair. They passed out bookmarks with information on Tennessee's seatbelt law. Sgt. Staggs, Captain Tony Barham, and Mark Bourqe of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, also accompanied the mascots and shared more information as they journeyed around the grounds.

"People really take notice of 3 mascots walking around! We really need people to stop and think about safety, so, what better way than hanging out at the fair with some furry mascots who want to share tips on vehicle and water safety. The messages all go hand in hand, buckle your kids up right, buckle yourself up right and when you get out on or near the water, make sure everyone is in a life jacket. If our communities would take these 3 things more seriously, we would have a lot fewer tragedies to live with." Julie Brewer, Ollie Otter program manager.

The Ollie Otter program is sponsored by several organizations, including the Tennessee Transportation Development Foundation (TTDF) - a non-profit group established by the Tennessee Road Builders Association- and the TRBA Ladies Auxiliary. The statewide safety education program has made presentations in all 95 counties in Tennessee and is now crossing state borders.

"Our goal is to try to educate children through the Ollie Otter program about Tennessee's child restraint law," said Carol Coleman, chairperson of the TTDF. "Hopefully, children will encourage their caregivers, or whoever is driving them around, to make better safety decisions. Ollie needs help from everyone to make a difference to save children's lives on our Tennessee highways. It is up to us all."

The Ollie Otter program communicates that Tennessee state law requires the use of a booster seat until a child is 4-feet-9 inches tall or nine years old. An orange and white construction barrel, representing Ollie's home, is on display to teach the children the importance of roadway safety near construction work zones. The children were told to ask their parents to "Please slow down!" when they see construction barrels or road builders on the roads.

Sammy Sturgeon’s message is to learn,work and play outdoors but “Buckle Up in Your Truck” on your way. The program incorporates seat belt safety because automotive accidents are the number one cause of serious injuries and deaths among children under 18. "These kids have grown up with Ollie Otter and know about seat belts. Sammy Sturgeon keeps the message alive," said Kevin Liska, Director of the TTU Business Media Center.

With the popularity of pickup trucks, especially in the South, a large percentage of fatalities take place in trucks. With the “Buckle Up In Your Truck” initiative, middle school aged children will be taught how crucial it is to buckle their seat belt every time they are in the vehicle. According to the Governors Highway Safety Office, safety belt use ranges from 5-10 percentage points lower in pickups. The “Buckle Up in Your Truck” campaign is designed to convince pickup occupants to protect themselves from traffic injuries and death by wearing their safety belts regularly. Safety belts reduce the risk of dying in a rollover crash by up to 80%.

The program is sponsored by the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency, Governors Highway Safety Office, and Tennessee Tech University.

Tennessee is leading the way when it comes to seatbelt education. Follow these three mascots on Facebook, or find out more about them at their websites:

www.seatbeltvolunteer.org

www.sammysturgeon.org

http://www.tn.gov/safety/thp/safetyed.shtml

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Sammy Sturgeon & Ollie Otter visit Community Events
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Sammy the Sturgeon's Get Outdoors & Buckle Up in Your Truck Program developed and maintained in conjunction with:
Tennessee Tech UniversityTennessee Wildlife Resources AgencyGovernor's Highway Safety OfficeTennessee Department of SafetyTennessee Coordinated School Health