Mission to strap children to safeguard their lives
After a stint with Shell Petroleum Development of Nigeria (SPDC), where she worked as electronic library manager, Mrs. Bolanle Edwards developed a passion for ensuring the safety of children in moving vehicles. Although friends and family felt venturing into an area the society considered absurd will not be a worthwhile venture, the adorable Bola, who was convinced about her vision and passion, would not give up. When she later resigned her appointment in 2005 to start her own business, Mary Edwards Interior Designs, that passion did not die until, she started the Strap and Safe Child Foundation (SSCF), a non for profit organisation to safeguard the lives of children within age 0 – 12 years. Bola, who is the chief executive officer of Strap and Safe Child Foundation, shares her experience with BERTRAM NWANNEKANMA.
Strap and Safe Child Foundation
Strap and Safe Child Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation, which was borne out of passion for safety especially amongst children between the ages of 0 and 12 years of age. Safety of little children being conveyed in vehicles has been taken for granted for too long a time in Nigeria. The World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics confirm that a child is killed in an accident every three minutes around the world. 42 per cent of children are killed by recklessness, speeding and drunken motorists.
Presently, there is no law enforcing the use of car seats and seat belts for children. This is the primary reason why Strap and Safe Foundation is set up, to educate the society at large and to lobby the legislature to pass the law on enforcing the use of car seats for children between this age brackets.
We officially started in April 2009 in Lagos, Nigeria. SSCF currently partners with the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Lagos State Ministry for Transportation, Special Marshals, local and international not-for-profit organisations.
We have been involved in some projects like the UN Safety Week, Horn Free Day by the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation, UN Pedestrian Week, interventions in both government and private Lagos State schools, Media Interventions, 2016 Children’s Day ‘strap that child now’ walk, World Remembrance Day for Victims of Road Accident, religious places, and installation of school road signs etc. We were nominated in 2015 for the 9ja Award for Safety Record. The organisation partners with the Federal Road Safety Commission and other bodies like non-governmental organisations in Nigeria and Oman (UAE).
Objective of the foundation
The objective is to inform all care givers about the dangers of conveying children without child restraints in vehicles. We also strive to prevail on government through our planned programme initiatives to enact laws that will ensure children are restrained in vehicles. Beyond that, the foundation continually ensures safety of the Nigerian child on our roads, because they are the future of Nigeria.
The passion for children
My passion to save the children started long time ago before I registered Strap and Save Foundation in 2009 because of the fact that I see a lot of anomalies on our roads. I see the way children are being mishandled on our roads and I said to myself, if I did not do something, we continue to probably lose these minors, our futures and legacies.Again my experience at a multinational corporation, where safety standards are not compromised added impetus to my desire to make a difference.
Statistics of child accident
When you also consider for instance, the fact that over 15 children between ages 0 – 12 are involved in avoidable accidents along Lagos and Ibadan expressway alone in the last five months, you know that it is not a joke. In most of these cases, these children either lost their lives or sustained injuries that affect their future.
There is this pathetic case involving a couple near Ibafo in Obafemi Owode local council in Ogun State, where a child was flown out from the window of a moving vehicle when it was hit at the back upon their return to Lagos from a trip. Even efforts by their parents, Police and sympathisers to locate the whereabout of the child proved abortive. The parent lost the child and the incidence is haunting them till date. Perhaps were the child, who happened to be their only child strapped in the vehicle, the story might have been different.
Then, I said to myself, I need to begin to advocate for child safety and I am happy that we have affected over 2000 pupils while schools are our primary target. The case of seven students from Kano who lost their lives along Ibadan–Lagos expressway in a road accident was believed to have been caused by burst tyre.
The children were returning in a bus, belonging to a public secondary school in Kano from a national schools’ quiz competition organised by FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc in Lagos.
Perhaps, if the children were strapped, perhaps if the driver were not over speeding, it would not have happened. Perhaps, if the normal safety cautions were taken, those children would not have been dead by now.
They journeyed in a rickety bus, which had trouble getting to Lagos and when they died on the road, they were flown in a chartered aircraft back home for burial.
Then something died in me that I said, perhaps, if the bus was in good condition, and other safety cautions observed, the lives of children nurtured till secondary school age would not have been taken just like that. It is not fair. It is unacceptable that the children were flown to Kano for burial when a lot more could have been done to secure their future.
There is another example of two children in school bus, who were returning from an excursion at National Theatre, and the two fell off from the moving school bus at Costain, Lagos, and broke their legs.
Journey so far
We recently sensitised parents during the Children’s Day celebration on the dangers of not strapping their children, stressing the need for children to be strapped in the vehicle at all times to save our future.
I am not relenting in my mission to save Nigeria children, who are lost daily by avoidable accident. A child that is strapped is a child that is saved. Nigerians should do their own bit and let nature take its own course. I am happy that we have affected over 2000 pupils while schools are our primary targets.
The organisation are already partnering with the Federal Road Safety Corps, The Lagos Ministry of Transportation, National Emergency Agency (NEMA) to ensure success of the mission.
Bola joined Communication Trends Nigeria Limited as a marketing executive after she graduated from the University of Lagos, Akoka, with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.
Obtaining a master’s degree in Labour Relations (MILR), she moved to Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) where she worked as an electronic library manager and later resigned in 2005 to start her own business, Maryedwards Interior Designs, a business which has grown and created jobs in Nigeria.
She belongs to the Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM), Ikeja chapter where she held the post of an assistant secretary, and secretary between 2007- 2012. She is also an active member of Network of Entrepreneurial Women (NNEW) of the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) where she serves as the financial secretary of the NNEW Cooperative.
Bola is involved in managerial trainings in human resources and youth empowerment programmes. She is married with kids and her hobbies include watching movies, designing, reading, counselling and mentoring youths and travelling.