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Sea of blue to remember Kijani

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Pain into purpose: students at the Bermuda Institute wear blue to raise awareness of road safety after the death of their classmate Kijani Burgess. Front row, from left, are Rupert Bushner; Kijani’s parents, Kevin and Antoinette Burgess; his sister, Khaeljah; and Grade 8 student Rickai Lightbourne, who designed the #PainintoPurpose road safety shirts (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Teenagers took up the campaign for safer roads yesterday as they remembered a schoolmate who died in a crash earlier this week.Pupils and teachers at the Bermuda Institute turned the school into a sea of blue as they paid tribute to Kijani Burgess and other victims of road accidents.The 16-year-old was killed on Monday after his scooter hit a taxi and he fell into the path of a fire engine on its way to an emergency call-out with its lights and sirens on.Malaysia Burt, one of Kijani’s closest friends, said: “We’re just going to try to show everyone on the island that being on the roads is very hectic.“Everyone needs to take caution, remain safe, be aware and notice it’s not just them on the roads, other people are on the roads, too.”She added: “It shouldn’t take different tragedies for people to understand that road safety is important.”Indio Francis, 16, added: “We’re trying to get out there that everything happens for a reason and road safety is a very important topic in Bermuda.“Bike accidents are really common and we just want everyone to be safe on the roads.”She added that the pupils’ message should have been delivered “a generation ago”.Ms Francis said: “Road safety should have been top priority, it shouldn’t have to take this one accident to develop awareness.”Mr Burgess was the first road fatality of 2020. The Bermuda Police Service said this week that he was riding a 50cc scooter behind a taxi on Somerset Road in Sandys, his home parish.It is thought the taxi driver slowed down and pulled to the side of the road to give way to a fire truck heading in the opposite direction.The emergency vehicle was on its way to a reported collision when the crash happened at about 4.15pm.A police spokesman said that Mr Burgess and his scooter “struck the rear of the taxi and fell into the path of the fire truck”.The incident was said to be a “freak bike accident” in a message shared on social media, where people spread the news of the plan to wear blue — Mr Burgess’s favourite colour.It said: “His 11th grade class at Bermuda Institute has decided to turn their pain into a purpose and create a legacy for Kijani.”The message added: “His life will not go in vain and our main goal is to create awareness for what happened to Kijani and all road fatalities that have happened.”Mr Burgess’s parents and sister attended an assembly at the Seventh-day Adventist-run school in Southampton yesterday, when pupils wore specially made T-shirts with the Pain Into Purpose hashtag and a road safety logo designed by Grade 8 student Rickai Lightbourne.Pupils at other schools on the island joined the campaign to wear blue as well as students and staff at Oakwood University in Alabama, which is also affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist faith.Chad McNorton, who was a classmate of Kijani, said: “I think it’s very good for them to show the love.”Frigga Simmons, the director of development at the school, said that the past week had been “a very sad time”.She explained: “When we found out on Tuesday, we had counsellors on campus so that gave the kids an opportunity to share and remember him — cry, laugh and think about who Kijani was. He was a very nice young man.”Ms Simmons added: “Kijani was a genuine young man. He was always bringing a smile and encouraging others.“His dream was to be a film director, so you could always see him walking around with a camera, taking pictures.”She said that the pupils had “rallied” and wanted to form an organisation to spread their message.Ms Simmons explained: “They want to bring awareness to our community because enough is enough. We are losing too many of our young people to road accidents.”

Wear blue for Kijani (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Wear blue for Kijani (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)