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Blue Friday: new road safety campaign to launch this week

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Pain into purpose: Bermuda Institute pupils wear blue in 2020 to promote road safety after the death of classmate Kijani Burgess. Front row, from left, are Rupert Bushner, Kijani's parents, Kevin and Antoinette Burgess, his sister, Khaeljah, and Grade 8 pupil Rickai Lightbourne, who designed the #PainintoPurpose road safety shirts (File photograph)

A new campaign yesterday appealed to the public to wear blue on Friday to commemorate people who have lost their lives on the roads.

Pain Into Purpose Bermuda and the Kijani Dream Charity, set up by the family of schoolboy Kijani Burgess after he died in a motorbike accident, have joined forces to promote an annual road safety campaign.

The team also asked people to make donations to their Road Safety and Wellness Awareness Campaign, designed to help those grieving a roads death.

Antoinette Burgess, Kijani’s mother and founder of the Kijani Dream Charity, said: “We are just encouraging Bermuda to come out and have the conversation about road safety.

“There’s so much talk about road safety, but it’s a national crisis and it feels like it’s not being taken seriously.”

The blue-clothes campaign was started in 2020 when Ms Burgess’s 16-year-old son, Kijani, was killed after his scooter hit a taxi and he fell into the path of a fire engine.

The teenager’s classmates at The Bermuda Institute wore blue — Kijani’s favourite colour — and a special pin days after his death in memory of the youngster and others killed in crashes.

Ms Burgess, who later set up the Kijani Burgess Dream Award as a scholarship for Bermuda Institute former pupils, asked people to carry out at least one act of kindness on Friday.

She also encouraged others to use the opportunity to donate to the campaign and buy a pin, ribbon or key ring.

Ms Burgess said: “We also want the encourage people to just make amends and love each other.

“This isn’t just about the people we have lost — we don’t talk about those who have lost limbs, or the grieving families and the financial impact.”

Antoinette Burgess at the launch of a scholarship, the Kijani Dream Award, for Bermuda Institute pupils who graduated from secondary school despite learning difficulties. Pictured are Mrs Burgess with daughter Khaeljah Burgess and Yulanda Francis (File photograph)

Pain Into Purpose was started by Kijani’s classmates after they left school.

The organisation’s Road Safety and Wellness Awareness Campaign, which was started at the beginning of the year, will put grieving families in touch with counsellors and also plans to publish a book on how to deal with grief.

Ms Burgess said that the appeal did not have a financial goal but that it was hoped to raise $25,000 for the campaign by April.

She also asked the public to be careful on the roads after the island experienced a near-record 17 roads deaths in 2021.

Ms Burgess said that a bereavement left a massive gap in the lives of those left behind and the memories never faded.

She added: “You replay so much of it in your mind.

“For me this weekend has been replaying the last moments of my child’s life over and over. It’s like a movie that doesn’t end.”

She added: “We want Bermudians to reach out to these families who lost loved ones on these roads and support these families.

“People are around for the weeks after the deaths but it’s what happens after that are difficult.

“Families are still hurting, going through their loss and trying to put their lives back together emotionally and sometimes financially.”

To donate to the Road Safety and Wellness Awareness Campaign, visit the Pain Into Purpose website here.

People can buy a pin for $5 or a road safety awareness key chain or a ribbon for $7.

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Published January 11, 2022 at 7:55 am (Updated January 10, 2022 at 10:28 pm)

Blue Friday: new road safety campaign to launch this week

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