Shellharbour has become the latest council in Australia to support the Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation’s pedestrian safety program.
Foundation co-founder David McLaughlin thanked the council for embracing the campaign and installing more than 70 colourful signs in popular holiday destinations in Shellharbour Village, Lake Illawarra and Warilla to remind pedestrians to hold the hand of children and for drivers to slow down.
Mr McLaughlin and his wife Michelle founded the foundation after the tragic death of their son Tom.
The four-year old was hit by a car and killed while holidaying during the December/January Christmas holiday period on the Central Coast of NSW with his family in 2014.
“Immediately following Tom's accident, another tragedy happened in the Christmas holiday period and we felt that we couldn’t sit back and do nothing because the same conditions were present in the Easter holidays,’’ Mr McLaughlin said.
“So that’s when we reviewed all the factors that we could see that were present that allowed this terrible tragedy to occur and we came up with the foundation.
‘’The little blue dinosaur image/graphic is actually Tom's own drawing. He loved dinosaurs and he loved the colour blue.
“That’s how we put those things together to create an ongoing memorial to Tom and something that gives back to the community to attempt to avoid this tragedy befalling any other small child and/or family.’’
Mayor Marianne Saliba said the welfare of children is the focus of the Christmas road safety initiative being implemented in high traffic tourism areas in Shellharbour City.
“This road safety warning is a timely reminder to everyone during the summer holidays, when people are often more relaxed and complacent than usual,’’ Cr Saliba said.
The “bright and eye-catching’’ signs feature road safety messages.
Michelle McLaughlin said the holiday period was an ‘’unusually dangerous time for children on the roads’’.
She said it was imperative to hold children’s hands ‘’because they have limited cognitive abilities (around distance and speed) and they are very unpredictable’’.
“After we lost our precious Tom, we wanted to honour him by educating families and children about the differing roadways they encounter when travelling to beautiful holiday hot-spots like here in the Shellharbour region,’’ Mrs McLaughlin said.
‘’We are so pleased to have Shellharbour City Council incorporate the campaign into their road safety strategy and actively promote safer roadways for children.’’
Visit www.littlebluedinosaur.org/ or Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation’s Facebook page for more details.