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“Action!” Lindner students roll the camera for pedestrian safety

Collaboration with Cincinnati Public Schools and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center leads to contest-winning video

It’s a daily routine for many, but crossing the street can be dangerous, especially for children. In fact, unintentional pedestrian injuries are the fifth-leading cause of injury-related death in the United States for children ages five to 19. In the state of Ohio, that translates to an average of 20 children mortalities each year and approximately 117 inpatient hospital admissions for pedestrian-related injuries.

Sixth-graders at Covedale School, part of the Cincinnati Public School (CPS) District, are looking to change those statistics. With the help of key partners — including two Lindner College of Business honors students — they are well on their way to making that happen.

What the UC and Covedale students achieved together exemplifies the CPS Strong pathway of Next Lives Here, the university's strategic direction. 

In fall 2018, nearly a dozen students within CPS were struck by cars getting to or from school. Five of those occurrences that resulted in injuries were in the Covedale School community alone. The Comprehensive Children’s Injury Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center partnered with the school to increase proactive education for pedestrians and drivers alike.

Young boy in bright yellow jacket with reflective and orange stripes holds and points to an orange sign that says "SLOW" in black letters

After several traffic incidents resulting in injuries, sixth-grade students at Covedale School wanted to educate their peers about the importance of pedestrian safety. Photo/Provided/Quinn Villarreal

“We were tracking these incidents, and the data told a serious story,” said Corazon Eaton, manager at the Comprehensive Children’s Injury Center at Cincinnati Children’s. “We saw a large disparity in education around pedestrian and driving safety, so we applied for a grant with Safe Kids Worldwide to help us expand and deepen our efforts.”

Safe Kids Worldwide is a national nonprofit that promotes childhood safety by working with hospitals to implement local education and awareness initiatives. When the organization announced the 2019 Road Safety Youth Leaders Video Contest, a group of Covedale sixth-graders jumped at the chance to participate. They wrote a rap and were eager to take their work to their next level.

That’s where Lindner students Quinn Villarreal, ’21, and Brandon Davis, ’20 and graduate of CPS’ Walnut Hills High School, come in.

We were tracking these incidents, and the data told a serious story ... We saw a large disparity in education around pedestrian and driving safety.

Corazon Eaton Manager, Comprehensive Children’s Injury Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

Villarreal had recently wrapped a video for fellow Lindner Business Honors students and newly elected student body president and vice president Chandler Rankin and Abbie Smith. Eaton and her husband, UC Foundation Director of Development Curtis Eaton, had seen Villarreal’s work and were impressed. They reached out to see if he’d take on the project.

“When I spoke with Corazon and Curtis, I was shocked by the harsh statistics,” said Villarreal. “I wanted to figure out how we could make the biggest impact in the Cincinnati area.”

Villarreal had the equipment and ability to give technical direction for shooting a video, but he needed someone to produce the music. He called his friend and Bearcast Media collaborator Brandon Davis.

“One call, and Brandon was ready to work on this project,” said Villarreal.

Davis, who was actually recruited to attend Lindner by Curtis Eaton when he was assistant director of undergraduate recruitment at Lindner, happily obliged. He began working on the instrumental track, experimenting with sounds that captured the intensity and energy of the students’ original recordings.

“I’ve been making beats for years, but this was the first time that lyrics were sent to me to build a beat around,” said Davis. “I got to put a lot of skills that I’ve been developing for a while into practice.”

A young man wearing headphones and a purple collared shirt works from a laptop

Brandon Davis, '20, was excited to put his developing music production skills into practice. "Their idea inspired everything I did with the music," he said. Photo/Provided/Quinn Villarreal

Meanwhile, Villarreal worked with the Covedale students to shoot the video. That technical direction he thought he’d have to give turned out to be pretty minimal.

“I would be framing shots, and Jeremiah, one of the students, would be directing the other students or running through lines,” said Villarreal. “It was phenomenal to see students so passionate about what they believe in.”

Sixth-grade science social studies teacher Connie Campbell watched her students thrive working with college students just a few years older than them.

"My students were over the moon to work on something that felt like a professional production," said Campbell. "And when the class first heard the song Brandon produced, their jaws just dropped. The entire energy in our classroom just burst."

When everyone was satisfied with the final video, the Covedale students submitted it to the contest. Viewers nationwide could vote until May 1, 2019. On May 6, Safe Kids Worldwide announced that Covedale’s video won by more than 1,000 votes.

"Even though our sixth-graders are being promoted next week and will leave Covedale School, they aren't leaving the Covedale community or this cause," said Covedale School Principal Michele Kipp. "They are presenting at the 2019 Pedestrian Safety Summit and to the school board. We can't wait to support them in where they take this."

Looking back, Villarreal and Davis point to their formative experiences at Lindner — communicating in a professional way, building and calling upon a network, breaking outside the traditional mold of volunteerism or community engagement — as integral to the video’s success.

“This project really touched on the importance of ‘Engagement’ from Lindner’s PACE curriculum,” said Davis. “Had Quinn and I not been engaged in our communities and organizations within Lindner and the university as a whole, we probably would not have met, let alone have had the opportunity to create something like this.”

Susan Mantel, associate dean of undergraduate programs at Lindner, spoke to the importance of Project Impact, in which Lindner students learn how to manage a business project with a non-profit as a part of their first-year experience.

“Business education means understanding the business of non-profit organizations, too,” said Mantel. “It’s exciting to see how some of our students use what they learned in Project Impact in future years.”

Had Quinn and I not been engaged in our communities and organizations within Lindner and the university as a whole, we probably would not have met, let alone have had the opportunity to create something like this.

Brandon Davis, '20 Information Systems major, Lindner Honors student

Both Villarreal and Davis are involved in Bearcast Media. Davis is majoring in information systems and is a Business Fellow, Darwin T. Turner scholar and in the Circle of Excellence Business Honors program. Villarreal, a Business Fellow and Carl H. Lindner Honors-PLUS scholar, is majoring in information systems and marketing.

Featured image: Lindner College of Business students Brandon Davis, right, and Quinn Villarreal, helped Covedale School put together a rap video about pedestrian safety that went on to win the 2019 Road Safety Youth Leaders Video Contest, a national competition hosted by Safe Kids Worldwide. Photo/Provided/Quinn Villarreal

Next Lives Here

The University of Cincinnati is leading public urban universities into a new era of innovation and impact. By building upon our ecosystem of support for Cincinnati Public Schools, we strengthen not only CPS, but our city and region. Find out more.

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