WARREN, NJ - “If it Saves Just One.” Watchung Hills students unveiled a mural on Friday depicting drivers safety entitled, “If it Saves Just One.”
The mural is a result of workshops with community member Sangeeta Badlani, the mother of Nikhil Badlani an 11 year old boy who lost his life in a motor vehicle accident when a distracted driver failed to stop at a stop sign and slammed into his family car.
Since his death, the Nikhil Badlani Foundation (NBF), spearheaded by Sangeeta and Sunil Badlani along with friends and family, has worked to educate the community and particularly, students, about the dangers of distracted driving. Nikhil was killed in an auto accident on June 11, 2011, when a distracted driver failed to stop at a stop sign on Wyoming Avenue in South Orange.
At the unveiling, Sangeeta spoke to the students bringing home the message that lives can change in an instant. She said,” you can do everything right but .....Be alert...”
Warren police shared statistics for crashes in Warren Township. 491 crashes were reported in 2018, just in Warren. Police Chief William Keene told the crowd that he will always remember his first fatality 30 years ago- a 16 year old student at WHRHS who was the passenger in a car crash. The driver survived and as Keene said, has to live with it for the rest of his life.
Drivers safety is a part of the health curriculum for sophomores at WHRHS, and in December and January, the students completed the mural focusing on safe driving habits. The individual groups in each of the classes presented their sketches and the importance of safe driving habits to their classmates, teacher Jill Gleeson said.
Artist Cindy Klein collected their sketches and manipulated them in a way that created a large homogeneous collage on pieces of plexi-glass. The students then glued colored tissue paper to the plexi-glass to add color and depth to the mural simulating a stained glass window.
The project is now displayed in the South Cafeteria at WHRHS.
The New Jersey Legislature passed “Nikhil’s Law” in 2016 which requires the Motor Vehicle Commission to inform teenage drivers of the dangers of distracted driving in the driver’s manual and in the driver’s license examination. It also gives them the option to take the STOP for Nikhil Safety Pledge.
All Watchung Hills sophomores took the Stop for Nikhil Safety Pledge, according to WHRHS teacher Jill Gleeson.
The Nikhil Badlani Foundation (NBF), established by Nikhil’s family, raises traffic safety awareness and enables New Jersey students to educate peers in a unique way. Sangeeta created the Drivers Ed Through Art program encouraging students to create artwork that depicting safe driving. The Drivers Ed Through Art program was made possible at Watchung Hills Regional High School through a grant from State Farm Insurance.
“The Watchung Hills Regional High School students created a beautiful, educational piece of artwork they can be proud of,” says State Farm Agent Jean DiGrande. “I’m excited State Farm supports this worthwhile program. It provides valuable education to young people, helps them focus on the importance of safe driving and allows them to be part of a creative, fulfilling program.”
To review the requirements and process for obtaining a provisional license at the age of 16 and 17, visit:
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