Ziggy keeps kids safe

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The Scottish Government and Road Safety Scotland today (24th January) announced the launch of the Gaelic language version of their pioneering new approach to early years road safety education: ‘Go Safe! – Ziggy’s Road Safety Mission’.

This new approach to early years road safety education initially launched in October of 2010 and is aimed resource at all children in Scotland from birth to six and their ‘communities’ of parents, carers and educational staff.

The Gaelic language version of the Ziggy books form part of Road Safety Scotland’s commitment to engage with all early years children across Scotland in order to improve early years road safety.

There are currently more than 50,000 Gaelic speakers in Scotland and in 2010, 2,256 primary school pupils received Gaelic medium education and 867 children attend Gaelic nursery.Every pre-school child in Scotland will receive a version of the specially created books as part of the new story-based initiative which aims to not only improve early years road safety education, but also give young children the best possible start to their lifelong learning about keeping safe on and around the road environment.

The road environment still represents the single highest cause of death and injury to young people in Scotland, with 1,474 child casualties on Scotland’s roads in 2009. The new approach aims to reduce child casualties through inspiring the involvement of parents, carers and educators to provide good examples every time they are on or near roads with young children.

As part of the new approach, a total of 2,500 Gaelic language books for home use with pre-schools children will be distributed across Scotland. A new website has been launched for children, parents and educators - www.gosafewithziggy.com - and a full and interactive Gaelic language version of the site is due to go live later this year.

Featuring the colorful ‘Ziggy’ character, a little alien who visits Scotland to learn about road safety, the new materials have been developed in line with the Scottish Government’s policy on early intervention and the Curriculum for Excellence for each key stage of the early years: 0-3, pre-school and the transition into Primary 1.

Written by Glaswegian author Lynda Kennedy and illustrated by Lanarkshire primary teacher and illustrator Lynn Taylor, the stories feature a distinctive visual style with illustrated characters appearing on photographed backgrounds; making use of ‘child’s eye level’ photography to create a strong connection between the stories and the real life experiences of young children. 

To mark the launch of the new Gaelic education resource, Gaelic speaking primary school children, along with their parents and educators, from Tollcross Primary School in Edinburgh - who feature in film clips for the approach - were joined by Gaelic singer and TV presenter Kathleen MacInnes, at Our Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh to take part in a reading from the first Gaelic book in the series - ‘Ziggy and the Lollipop’.

Commenting on the launch of the Gaelic language version of the Ziggy books Road Safety Scotland Assistant Director Mairi Blair said: “The launch of the Gaelic language version of the new Ziggy books is an exciting and important development in making sure that all children in Scotland have access to the latest early years road safety education resource.

“We are committed to reducing the number of children killed or seriously injured in road accidents and ensuring that all children are safer on Scotland’s roads. The Gaelic language version of the Ziggy books is yet another step towards making this a reality for all children in Scotland.”

Road Safety Early Years Development Officer and illustrator of the Ziggy books, Lynn Taylor, added: “The approach is based on research that indicates the most effective form of early years education should centre on developing positive attitudes and behaviors.

“We know that young children are engaged by well-written stories, rhymes, games and activities, so we wanted to create a multi-sensory approach to road safety education.

“Too many children are still being injured or killed on Scotland’s roads each year. I hope that this will make a real difference in improving child safety on our roads.”

Michael Russell, Education Secretary said: “Learning about road safety is a fundamental part of any child’s development. The translation of these books into Gaelic is another important milestone in both the Scottish Government’s ongoing commitment to the language and improving safety on Scotland’s roads.”