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Ruben takes fun lessons with serious message to the Coromandel

Published: 18/06/2018

Ruben the Road Safety Bear is feeling chipper ahead of his road trip to the Coromandel Peninsula, where he’ll be giving lessons to hundreds of pre-schoolers and primary children.

 “He’s been away to a health spa,” says Waikato Regional Council’s Enduring Safer Outcomes advisor Jenny Davis about the purple furry road safety role model who recently celebrated his 20th anniversary on the job.

“His coat is looking very nice and bright and shiny, and he’s feeling like a young cub again.”

Ruben, who doesn’t speak, will visit 23 schools, preschools, kohanga reo and kura kaupapa (he’s also known as Rūpene te Pea Haumaru Huarahi) with a presenter, teaching the children basic road safety rules as part of Waikato Regional Council’s young road user safety programme.

“He has a pedestrian crossing and pretend lights, and the kids get to hold hands with Ruben and practise crossing. They just love it when he comes to visit.”

Ruben has been using his fun interactive lessons to spread serious road safety messages across the Waikato since 1997.

His resources include a height chart, a movie, song, storybooks and activity books for the kids, and his lessons have been called “the best day ever”.  The kids also get to take useful tips for families to reinforce what they learned from Ruben.  

“It’s not a one-off programme,” says Ms Davis. “It’s designed for teachers and parents to continue the learning for the rest of the year when Ruben isn’t there.”

Ms Davis says the results of an independent survey of intermediate aged children, about three years ago, showed that those who had taken part in Ruben’s road safety programme in the past were more likely to do the right thing like wear a bike helmet or seatbelt.

Ruben’s key road safety messages are:

  • Stop, look, listen and link!  – crossing the road safely
  • Seat yourself right … buckle in tight! – vehicle travel safety
  • Be bright … dress bright! – being visible
  • Look out for sneaky driveways! – footpath and driveway safety
  • Helmet on right and tight – cycle safety

Ruben is heading to Coromandel area for the week beginning 25 June 2018, where he will deliver lessons to children from: Opoutere School, Central Kids Tairua, Tairua School & Playcentre, Hikuai School, Whenuakite School, Whenuakite Country Kids, Coroglen School, Riverlee Early Learning Centre, Mercury Bay Area School, Mercury Bay Kindergarten, Kauri Learners Education, Whitianga Playcentre, Peanuts Childcare, Mercury Bay Preschool, Te Rerenga School, Colville School & Colville Preschool, Coromandel Community Preschool, Coromandel Area School, Coromandel Playcentre, Te Kohanga Reo Kapanga, Te Whare Kura o Manaia and Kopuarahi School.

More than 5000 Waikato children are members of Ruben’s Roadstars Road Safety Kids Club. Ruben’s Roadstars receive road safety newsletters, birthday cards and cool surprises to keep them and their families excited about staying safe on the road.

Photo: Ruben the Road Safety Bear sets off on his trip to the Coromandel Peninsula.