When Anna and Emily Lawrence, 17-year-old twins from Bellmore, recently decided to tackle the issue of texting and driving, they were unsure whether their campaign against the dangerous practice would reach beyond Kennedy High School. But in just a few short weeks, the pair partnered with America’s largest township to create a public service announcement that is now airing on television channels across Long Island.
“We didn’t know where this was going to go,” Anna said of their initiative. “This was beyond any dream we had for this.”
The Kennedy juniors joined Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray and other officials at the south Bellmore school on June 18 to announce their partnership and kick off a public awareness campaign aimed at eradicating what all described as a deadly practice.
The Lawrence twins began organizing a school-wide campaign that they are calling STANDD-NY (Stop Texting and Driving-New York) earlier this spring. The pair reached out to local elected officials on the town, county and state levels several months ago, seeking help to spread their message: texting while driving can lead to accidents that cause serious harm to motorists and pedestrians.
A ‘deadly and dangerous problem’
Murray said she was pleased to receive a letter from the Lawrences, and she thought about the issue for several weeks. She then proposed that they work together to create a town campaign emphasizing the dangers of texting and driving.
“I knew we had to do something about this very, very deadly and dangerous problem,” she said. “There has never been a more rewarding partnership than the one we have forged between Hempstead Town and STANDD. Together we will make our drivers and pedestrians safer with an important public awareness campaign.”
The campaign includes a 30-second advertisement starring the Lawrences and another Kennedy student, Allie Levy. The public service announcement features the students driving and texting, unaware of a nearby pedestrian who is pushing a stroller. Officials said the commercial was filmed on a closed town road with Hempstead Town Public Safety Department supervision to ensure the safety of all participants.