Greek police enlists kids in road safety campaign


“Mom, don’t talk on the phone.” “Dad, pay attention.” “Grandpa, don’t drink and drive.” These and similar words of advice from elementary school children flooded the inbox of the Greek Police (ELAS) Press and Creative Planning Office last December.

“We wanted to design an awareness campaign that would involve children,” says Ioanna Marmarou, a police officer whose special duties include public relations and who came up with the scheme. “We posted an advertisement on Facebook inviting children aged 6-12 to draw pictures on the subject of road safety during the holidays and advice for parents. One of the drawings was picked for the ELAS Christmas card.”

ELAS’s presence on social media has seen a marked rise in recent months, with its Twitter account counting around 80,000 followers and its Facebook page, launched in September, having amassed more than 32,000 friends.

“We have a lot of interaction with users, responding to messages, comments and complaints,” says Marmarou. Despite this dynamic presence, however, her team never expected to road safety campaign to be the hit that it was.

It seems that the children were itching for a chance to tell off their parents, and drawings are a medium that most moms and dads will take notice of.

“We’d switch on our computers every morning and look forward to the new, imaginative entries,” says Marmarou. “We received 280 drawings from all around the country.” The messages, she adds, were occasionally quite grim, such as one saying, “Mom, Dad, what will happen to me now that you’re gone?”

ELAS eventually decided to use these drawings as part of another campaign that sees Traffic Police officers visiting schools across Greece and teaching children all about road safety. In 2015-16, the program reached out to 38,298 pupils, while the exhibitions and talks were attended by more than 40,000 students in 2015 and 2016. The drawings have been put on display at the Golden Hall mall (37A Kifissias) in the northern Athenian suburb of Maroussi in an exhibition that runs through April 5 and also includes drawing stations so visitors can add their own pictures to the show and seminars.

Later, a committee will choose 12 of the drawings to illustrate ELAS’s 2018 calendar.