Royal visit to Asian helmet safety project
HRH Prince Michael of Kent GCVO has visited an FIA Foundation-supported road safety programme protecting children from road injury in Vietnam.
The Prince was Guest of Honour at a 'Helmets for Kids' handover ceremony at which 1,100 children at Van Phuc Primary School received motorcycle helmets. The event, organised by the Vietnam-based AIP Foundation, was also attended by the UK's ambassador to Vietnam, HE Dr Antony Stokes.
At the start of the event, Prince Michael visited road safety activity booths conducted by AIP Foundation and talked with students about the importance of road safety. The helmet donations, to children who travel to school on the family motorcycle, are just one part of the programme's holistic approach. Children, and their teachers, are taught about traffic safety and learn how to wear their helmets correctly, and the behaviour of students and continued use of the helmets is regularly monitored.
On stage, HRH Prince Michael and Ambassador Stokes handed out helmets to some of the children. They were joined by the FIA Foundation's Director General Saul Billingsley; AIP Foundation's President, Greig Craft, and CEO, Mirjam Sidik; Nguyen Xuan Tan, Deputy Director of Hanoi Transportation Department and standing member of the Hanoi Traffic Safety Committee (TSC); and Nguyen Hiep Thong, Deputy Director of Hanoi Department of Education and Training (DOET). Representatives from the National Traffic Safety Committee (NTSC), Police Department and Vietnam Television also attended the ceremony.
Prince Michael said: "Improving road safety and reducing casualties requires permanent vigilance, regular reinforcement of messages, and constant innovation. All of these factors are evident in Vietnam’s approach, and I applaud Vietnam’s strong commitment to building on its road safety achievements.” The Prince also encouraged the students to always wear their helmet when they ride on a motorcycle. He told them that a helmet had once saved his own life.
Mr. Nguyen Hiep Thong, Deputy Director of Hanoi DOET, said:
"The Department of Education and Training has always considered traffic safety education for children a top priority. We have coordinated with several organisations to integrate helmet-training activities and traffic safety education within schools. After several years of implementation, we realise that school-based education is a highly effective method to change perceptions about helmets among children and parents."
Antony Stokes, UK Ambassador to Vietnam, said:
"It is shocking and unacceptable that more than ten Vietnamese children lose their lives on the roads every day. On behalf of the British Government I want to thank the FIA Foundation and AIP Foundation for the important work you are doing."
Saul Billingsley, Director General of the FIA Foundation, said:
"As a result of our funding more than 21,000 helmets were distributed to children in 19 Vietnamese schools last year. Each of these helmets, and the training and monitoring that accompanies them, represent a real investment in the public health and future of Vietnam. We know that some of these helmets have and will prevent serious head injuries. We have also enabled AIP Foundation to implement major public awareness campaigns and advocacy, promoting long-term, sustainable, behaviour change."
Prince Michael, a member of the British Royal Family, has been Patron of his International Road Safety Awards for more than 25 years. He is also Patron of the Commission for Global Road Safety.