Sara McDonnall, 17, of Lamar High School in Lamar, Colorado, has educated over 1,000 preschoolers and kindergarten students about seat belt safety through her creative Buckle bear program. "The uniqueness of this program is that it is targeted at primary age children," said Sara. "Though parents are legally responsible to properly restrain their children, that job is made much easier when the children are eager to comply." When Sara was a child, her babysitter, who was not buckled, died in a car accident. Since then, Sara has searched for a way to make a difference, which she found through a 4-H preschool seat belt program. Sara took that concept and expanded upon it when she constructed a lap puppet she called, "Buckle bear." She approached elementary school principals and teachers across her county and began to schedule appearances, carefully setting aside time that did not conflict with her own school attendance.
Sara brought along Buckle bear, coloring books, a special message for parents, and a certificate for each student. After her first successful year, Sara decided to expand the program by training 20 fellow students, who will now share the responsibility of making Buckle bear presentations and keeping the program going when Sara leaves for college.