The pressure built to something of a crescendo around 9.15 this morning when I had an ABC film crew coming to record the behind the White Crosses project and only three kids coming on the excursion! Not exactly compelling television! A last ditch sweep of the school netted about 15 kids willing to give up their classes between period 2-4 to come with me. A succession of phone calls followed as they all gained permission from their parents to attend. The phrases "road safety" and "school chaplain" seemed to melt away any suspicions at the parental end of the line.
Next a nervous visit to the principal seeking late permission to proceed on the basis of verbal permission having been received. A couple of provisos, a couple of checks and I got the green light, not-with-standing the part about telling the four boys out of uniform that they couldn't come. The journo arrived, the kids boarded the bus and we set off, and as we did it started to rain, uncomfortable but strangely appropriate. It didn't last long. The kids didn't quite know what to expect and I was a little nervous and uncertain at the beginning as I talked about two deaths on Layman Rd, one of them only 6 weeks ago.
As the weather warmed up so did I and things progressed smoothly. I pointed out lots of crosses as we passed, then stopped at some to get out and give a more detailed story. As the trip went on the kids became more quiet on the bus and more focussed when we got out at the various crash sites. They seemed to be taking it seriously and tuning in to the message, listening and showing respect. There were a few double takes and set-ups for the benefit of the TV camera but the kids didn't muck around and the whole thing went pretty well I thought. I spent the longest time at the site of a double fatality involving two young people killed 12 months ago.
Rachel from the ABC interviewed me at that site and then did a few vox pops with the kids, asking them their impressions of the project. She told me that they had been positive and supportive. The TV crew headed off to do an interview with the police, I took the kids to one more cross on Vasse Hwy then rewarded them with a stop at McDonalds before we headed back to school. I'll have a closer look at their before and after surveys to get a gauge on how effective it may have been but the warm thanks and genuine comments as they got off the bus made me think the exercise had been well worthwhile.
For those of you with access to ABC 1 in WA the story is likely to go to air on the 7 o'clock news on either Saturday or Sunday night. I know the kids will be keen to watch it, as will I.
With the pilot out of the way I was able to breathe a big sigh of relief and focus all my attention on camp preparations. I'm pleased to say that I'm over the hump, the benefit of working through until 2.00am! My list of things to do is greatly reduced and with 4 days till the camp starts I'm confident I'll get it finished in time. There is still plenty to do but some of the biggest jobs are done and lots of details have been sorted out.
I expect after working an 18 hour day I'm not going to be feeling too good come the morning ; I think I'll sleep in a little!