Every day around the world over 2,000 children die from some kind of incident, most of which could have been avoided. To help prevent children suffering accidents, Fundación MAPFRE has just launched Planeta ODS, its digital educational project to help raise awareness among children and youngsters of the need to protect themselves from everyday hazards, while teaching them how to take better care of the planet.
TEXT: RAMÓN OLIVER IMAGES: FUNDACIÓN MAPFRE, ISTOCK
Infancy is one of the most important stages of human development. This is when the foundations are laid, determining the personality and values that will govern a person’s adult life. This is an unrepeatable stage full of possibilities, but also a dangerous period for the physical integrity of children, for whom their lack of experience and scant sense of danger make them particularly vulnerable to mishaps. According to World Health Organization (WHO) data, 90 percent of childhood injuries are categorized as unintentional, with the tragic consequences being the death of 830,000 children each year throughout the world.
Intoxications, burns, blows, falls, choking, drowning, stings, bites, heat strokes, and trafficrelated incidents – including those knocked down or injured in collisions as passengers – are some of the most common inconsolable events during childhood. “Minors, by their very nature, are the population group most exposed to wounds and bone injuries. For this very reason, it is essential we ensure their well-being at every level, starting with families and educators,” declares Marilia Murciano, from Fundación MAPFRE’s Accident Prevention and Road Safety Area. For this expert, the prevention of unintentional injuries calls for global, collective action. “We must first consolidate safety within the children’s homes, and then extend that protection to their immediate surroundings,” she states.
Precisely in order to reduce the effects of these mishaps on children, Fundación MAPFRE has created Planeta ODS, a new educational project whose prime objective is risk prevention education for the infancy and juvenile stages, as well as the promotion of safe, healthy, sustainable mobility habits. Making children and youngsters aware of the risks they are exposed to, teaching them how to avoid them, and what to do should some unwanted event occur are some of the key points in this initiative. Murciano is categorical: “Most accidents involving children can be avoided.” And she warns: “A good number of injuries and accidents are the result of improper human behavior. For that reason, we are working hard on the idea of educating society so that, at all times, people act in a safe manner.”
Technology for raising awareness
Planeta ODS relies heavily on digital tools as a way to connect with the younger generation. As the specialist from the Fundación MAPFRE Accident Prevention and Road Safety Area puts it, “the new digital tools allow for the development of high-quality interactive resources that capture the attention of youngsters and enable them to acquire knowledge in an effective, yet entertaining way.”
The “game” concept has a relevant role to play. “Children nowadays are perfectly accustomed to virtual environments, similar to the most popular video games. It is a challenge for them to complete each level and move on to the next. The system keeps them alert all the time, making them observe the familiar environment around them in a whole new light,” explains Iñigo Becerril Oriol, director of Incommon Studio, the technology company that has developed part of the project’s technological solution, together with the Fundación MAPFRE team.
In the case of Planet ODS, this tool consists of a virtual tour that teaches children how to detect the hazards that may be lurking inside a normal home (in the kitchen or bathroom, items of furniture, etc.), on the public highway and in recreational areas such as sports fields or in nature. “The game allows them to locate hazards and risks, scoring points for finds in each phase. Once each hazard has been identified, the program offers an explanation, in both written and audio formats, of the danger and offers advice on how to avoid it,” Becerril Oriol adds.
The core notion underlying the whole program is that of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG or ODS in Spanish). Thus, child safety is at the center of the need for all of us to work together and create a better planet for the new generations. “We want children and youngsters to know about the risks to which they are exposed (their own vulnerability), take steps to avoid them and, moreover, know what to do whenever some unwanted event occurs,” is how the manager of Fundación MAPFRE’s Accident Prevention and Road Safety Area, Jesús Monclús, sums it up.
In an initial phase, Planeta ODS presents a series of entertaining virtual sessions and online workshops, in which the participating class or group is immersed in a graphic adventure supervised by tutors. The participants interact to complete a mission, with the remote guidance and assistance of educators and facilitators from EMADE and ADEAC, organizations which are collaborating with Fundación MAPFRE on this project. These workshops deal with two distinct – yet closely related – topics.
The first of these topics, Mi mundo seguro [My Safe World] addresses the prevention of unintentional injuries by calling on its young participants to take care of the planet they live on. “Because, in order to look after the Earth, we must begin by looking after ourselves,” Murciano stresses. The ultimate goal of these workshops, she goes on, is to raise awareness among children “of the need to protect ourselves and to preserve our mind and body, by acquiring safe, healthy, sustainable habits. In order to do so, we must remain alert in our everyday lives and reduce to the absolute minimum our exposure to possible hazards.”
A second topic falls within the scope of Mobility 3S, a term that refers to a new concept of mobility that is “Safe, Sound and Sustainable”. “When we move around, by whatever means, we must take into account aspects such as whether or not we are using safe transport, what we can do to use it as efficiently as possible, whether using it is healthy for us, what kind of fuel it consumes, or whether that has an impact on the environment,” this Fundación MAPFRE professional tells us. And she underscores the fact that the thousands of deaths every year are no longer acceptable to our society. “One more step must be taken, with the essential cooperation of us all, to prevent there being even one more road victim.”
For this ambitious goal to be achieved, safety education must start right from infancy. “By educating children to keep safe, we will have safe adults. It is up to us to gradually instill in them the most appropriate way to deal with each situation, striving to get them to adopt daily routines that will make them less vulnerable human beings,” Monclús stresses. However, he warns that “our efforts to teach children reliable behavior habits will be of no use at all if, afterwards, we adults do not then reinforce and back up what they’ve learned with our own behavior. We must not forget that our children replicate and mirror our actions every day.”
Safety education can also be a two-way street. We in Fundación MAPFRE are convinced that the educational influence between young and old is reciprocal. “Children have the ability and capacity to influence the behavior patterns of those close to them, sharing their opinion and assessment of everyday matters. With our educational program, we aim to turn our children into safety advocates for the adults around them.” The fact is that, sometimes, no threat of a fine, nor any awareness campaign is as powerful as the voice of a little boy or girl lovingly reprimanding their parents, as only they can do: “But, dad, how are we going to cross if the traffic light is red?”
The objectives of Planeta ODS
- Comprehend the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), assess their importance, and relate them to mobility and the prevention of unintentional injuries.
- Acquire responsible, civic, safe, egalitarian, inclusive attitudes and behaviors in relation to road traffic and the prevention of unintentional injuries.
- Use the public highway properly, whether as a pedestrian, passenger, cyclist or user of personal mobility vehicles (PMV).
- Act and react safely at all times and in every situation.
- Prevent traffic accidents and unintentional injuries.
- Reduce risk situations as road users.
- Correctly interpret road signs and basic traffic regulations.
- Respect all other users of the public highway.
- Understand the concepts of vulnerability (of both our planet and our body) and self-protection.
- Enhance the capacity for reflection and initiative.
- Enrich skills when working as a team.