CHICAGO, IL (August 8) –Metra announced the winners of its annual Safety Contest designed to promote and reinforce railroad safety to keep children safe around trains. Students from the Art School in Glenview, Ye Bin Park, won first place in the poster contest’s kindergarten division while sixth grader, Anna Lipkind placed second in her division.
Each year, Metra's Safety Contest invites students in grades K-12 throughout its six-county service area to submit poster and essay entries highlighting the importance of railroad safety. This year's contest theme was "Safety First: Look, Listen and Live." The agency received more than 5,000 student entries from nearly 250 schools throughout the region. Tasked with selecting the winners was a panel of 20 judges including government officials, representatives from safety and education advocacy groups, business and community leaders, members of the media and Metra representatives. Additionally, 600 members of the public participated in the Safety Poster Contest "People's Choice Award" voting at displays at each of Metra's downtown commuter stations.
"Nothing is more important to Metra than keeping children - and the public - safe," said Alexander Clifford, Metra CEO. "I would like to commend each and every person who participated in the safety campaign for their leadership - parents and schools who share safety lessons with children, our panel of judges and commuters who helped select the winners, and most importantly, the students who participated in the contest learning what they can do to keep themselves and others safe around trains."
The first-place poster designs will be featured as safety posters and distributed to more than 2,000 schools in Northeastern Illinois. The posters will also be featured in station displays, in Metra's 2012 safety calendar, on monthly tickets and on Metra's contest website and Facebook page. Winning safety essays will also be featured in the safety calendar, the Metra contest website and Facebook page.
First-, second- and third-place winners were chosen from each grade level for the Metra Safety Poster Contest. One winner from each grade group - elementary school, middle school and high school - was chosen for the Safety Essay Contest. First-place poster and essay contest winners receive a laptop computer, while second- and third-place poster contest winners receive $250 and $100 gift cards, respectively. The "People's Choice Award" winner receives a $250 gift card. Metra also recognizes the school with the most entries submitted in the poster contest. The top participating school receives a computer.
The annual contest would not be possible without the support of its sponsors whose contributions help Metra defray the costs of the contest prizes as well as the production of the safety posters. This year's contest sponsors include the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad and Hubbard Radio, owners of Chicago radio stations 97.1 FM The Drive, 100.3 Chicago's Rewind and 101.9 The Mix.
In addition, the Illinois Commerce Commission's PEERS Grant program helps cover the costs of campaign outreach and the production of the safety posters and calendars.
To date, campaign outreach efforts include the distribution of more than one million safety posters, 10,000 Metra Safety Calendars and more than two million pencil kits to schools throughout the region. The organization also operates a Facebook page and a website, available in both English and Spanish, to educate students and reinforce safety rules. The website has garnered millions of hits and the Facebook page interacts with hundreds of students, teachers and parents on a day-to-day basis.
"We are committed to doing everything we can to ensure safety is foremost when people are on or around trains and we could not be more proud of the role the Safety Contest has played, as the cornerstone of our campaign, to raise the level of awareness to train safety throughout Northeastern Illinois," said Clifford.