Two budding young grime artists have recorded an audio track designed to change attitudes to driving and highlight the consequences of irresponsible road use. 'Stuart's Story' is the result of a link-up between Birmingham Youth Offending Service, the WMFS Road Casualty Reduction Team (RCRT) and the West Midlands Road Safety Partnership (WMRSP).
Birmingham teenagers Jesse Bowen and Kadeem Lavington - both former young offenders themselves - have written lyrics and 'spit their bars' on the grime-based track which features the life-story of Stuart Fisher MBE, from Walsall. As a 17-year-old he was knocked down by a drink-driver in a stolen car while crossing the road on holiday in Blackpoolin 1996. Stuart was left with life-changing injuries and in need of 24-hour care.
It's hoped that the recording will deliver a strong message to all motorists, but especially 16 to 25-year-old male drivers. They account for a large proportion of the people killed or seriously injured every year on the region's roads.
Arron Lennon, from the WMFS RCRT, who led on the project, said: "I invited young people from Birmingham's Youth Offending Teams along to a road safety presentation, featuring Stuart's life story. Jesse and Kadeem got to meet Stuart and his parents, and were so influenced and inspired by his story that they felt they could make a difference to the people and communities of the West Midlands through their musical talent.
"As part of the programme they spent some time at a fire station, to see the reality of what firefighters often have to deal with when they turn out to road traffic collisions. 'Stuart's Story' highlights how the actions and decisions of the people involved on the day he was knocked over have had serious consequences for him, his family and his friends."
The track was produced by Ian Clarke and Dean Jones, who both work for the Youth Offending Service in Birmingham. Dawn Roberts, who heads the service, said: "Jesse and Kadeem had completed the requirements of their court orders, but volunteered to be involved in 'Stuart's Story' as they recognised they had much more to offer.
"The Youth Offending Service expects all young people on community court orders to undertake some form of restorative justice, to increase their understanding of the consequences of crime to victims and society. In this case, Jesse and Kadeem have demonstrated that the system can achieve what it aims to do and rehabilitate young people."
Peter Francis, WMRSP Manager, said: "Last year, onWest Midlandsroads, 11 car drivers and passengers aged 16 to 25 were killed and 100 were seriously injured. This project will help to reach one of our target groups with a positive message, and hopefully achieve the results we're always striving for."
The hard work of Jesse and Kadeem, and Birmingham Youth Offending Service, were officially recognised at a presentation ceremony at Teamworks Karting,Birmingham, where everyone involved in the 'Stuart's Story' project was treated to aVIPgo-karting experience and an award to recognise their efforts.
You can listen to, watch or download the 'Stuart's Story' track by following the links from the homepage of the West Midlands Fire Service website: www.wmfs.net.Photographs of the celebration event can also be viewed at http://www.flickr.com/photos/wmfs/sets/72157631988459020/
To get a free copy, or road safety information, call the RCRT on 0121 380 7991.