Visibility is life

Rural roads in the Cape Winelands can be treacherous on early winter mornings for pedestrians and motorists alike. Farm roads are typically poorly lit, with faded markings and no pavements, so motorists often have to swerve for pedestrians who suddenly appear in their headlights without warning. Sometimes these encounters end in tragic accidents, often in the death. Children on their way to school are most at risk as they trundle along in haphazard groups, often stepping out onto the road and into the path of an on-coming car.

Carla Koch witnessed such an accident early one morning a few years ago and it changed her life: “I was on my way to the airport and it was still dark. We came over a rise and there in front of us a car had knocked over a pedestrian. The look of trauma on the motorist’s face, and the horror and hysteria of the people around stuck with me, and so I decided to do something about it.”

“I realised that many accidents could be avoided if pedestrians wore reflective gear and practised the road safety rules,” she explains. “Being a teacher by profession, I also decided that starting with children would be the most effective way of bringing about change.” A quick glance through the school curriculum proved that road safety was dealt with in the foundation phase, particularly in Grade 3, so she aimed her awareness campaign at that age group. So Visibility is Life was started with a small loan and a lot of enthusiasm.

“Children learn best when all their senses are engaged, so we devised a fun interactive presentation using movement, rhymes, singing and acting to bring our message across,” continues Carla who employs professional actors and sound engineers for a quality presentation. After the show, each child is presented with a bright yellow reflective backpack to make them stand out on dark roads both from the front and back. “We realise that these backpacks often go missing or get passed on to a sibling, so we make sure our presentation is excellent so that it stays with the child. Our main character is a dog called Billy (from Visi-Billy-ty), so they have his picture in their heads when they are on the roads, and remember the rules he taught them.”

Carla has put on her road safety show at schools across the Cape Winelands from Porterville to De Doorns and to many rural schools in between, getting sponsorships from individuals, corporates and churches. “I would really like to grow my programme into a full-time, sustainable business that operates across the Western Cape,” she says, “we have had a great response from the schools where we have performed, so we know our programme is effective.”

Falke socks has come on board as a sponsor by marketing reflective sports socks. A percentage of the sale of these socks goes into the Visibility is Life campaign, while the sock wearers act as ambassadors for visibility on the roads, reminding motorists to watch out for pedestrians and cyclists alike.

Keeping up with the times, Carla has recently added reflective masks to her offering for all round visibility and safety.

To find out more about this valuable life skills programme, contact Carla Koch on the social media addresses below:

Instagram: @visibilityislife

Facebook: Visibility is Life