CATE > Case Studies > SADD/Kaitiaki o Ara – Students Against Dangerous Driving at Albany Senior High School

SADD/Kaitiaki o Ara – Students Against Dangerous Driving at Albany Senior High School

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Who are we?

SADD/Kaitiaki o Ara – Students Against Dangerous Driving at Albany Senior High School (ASHS) is not a new concept. However, SADD as a thriving, passionate group is fairly recent. In 2019, SADD at ASHS was rebranded and has continued to grow into a popular group among the student community. 

The authors of this article are a group of four young leaders who have been heavily involved in the SADD group at ASHS:

Purpose of this report

The SADD group at ASHS has been successful in producing many young leaders and young adults who have the skills necessary to navigate the transition from education to the workforce or further education. The environment at ASHS has been ideal for growing the group and maintaining the passion through a student-led initiative. This report seeks to explore the timeline of SADD at ASHS and conclude with the learning outcomes, experiences and opportunities that it provided for ourselves and our peers. 


Mission and principles:

SADD/Kaitiaki o Ara is a student-led charity that aims to prevent loss on New Zealand roads.  SADD empowers their youth with interactive resources, support, mentors, inspiration and various other opportunities to encourage safer road behaviours.  SADD provides an opportunity for students to have an impact within their local communities, make connections, improve leadership skills, and act as a learning opportunity for students.



The school is from years 11-13 and is open plan. Students manage their own learning more than at an average high school and are responsible for any events and activities that take place. School groups are run by a team of competent group leaders. Teachers are sometimes involved in groups but never run them. This allows students to have ownership.

Why it worked:

SADD’s vision is for young people to lead and be empowered in a student-led organisation. ASHS is set up in a way that allows for its groups to follow this exactly.


The catalyst:

In 2019, there was an absence of a SADD group at ASHS.  Upon discovering the SADD National Leader Program, Ben was inspired by the opportunity and realised that there was a need for this opportunity within his school community.  Ben gained one of the 12 National Leadership Positions and began setting up a SADD group at ASHS.

Formalising the group:

Constructing the team for the SADD group was one of the most crucial parts of beginning our journey.  Ben recruited seven of his friends with diverse areas of expertise and experience.  The variety of members in our group created a strong group that would go on to run numerous successful events that year.


When starting our SADD group, we worked smart by using the resources we had available to us:  SADD’s digital resources (e.g., posters, stickers, and idea inspiration)

  • Equipment that the school or group members had 
  • Activities did not rely on money. 
  • To raise funds, ASHS SADD worked with other community partners for specific events. 

The community donated resources (padlocks from our local Bunnings, lollies from AT Transport, time of various community groups, such as the NZ Police). The group created opportunities to interact with external stakeholders – improving networking, formal writing and general communication skills. 


Hearts Campaign – raising awareness of the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads. We identified the number of deaths on the road in 2018 and symbolised each death by a red cut-out heart, hung from a beam in the entranceway to our school resulting in an eye-catching art piece that raised awareness with and educated students, teachers and school guests of this number, reinforcing the importance of safe driving. 

The Impairment Prevention Bus – first large scale event and most popular.  We invited the NZ Police Impairment Prevention Team (IPT) to the school to demonstrate how Police breath tested and keep our roads safe.

A couple of a hundred students came to the event and walked away with a greater understanding of how being impaired affects concentration and ability to drive.  Our SADD group learnt and put to use skills to manage and plan a large event, communicate with community partners, create safety plans, and coordinate large amounts of people.

Alcohol Checkpoint with local Police – our final activity for 2019 involved SADD members participating in a local checkpoint at a busy road nearby our school. Students rewarded sober drivers with packets of lollies, supplied by Auckland Transport.  This created an opportunity for our members to positively interact with Police and our local community.


2020 provided an opportunity to continue growing.  Our SADD group grew significantly in numbers.  Two new members became key contributors alongside Ben and Jess, locally and nationally. 

Police Pathways Programme – At the beginning of 2020, a selection of our SADD group attended a Police Pathways Programme event at the Northcote Police Station where students gained inspiration from SADD groups from other local schools.

The Lock Event – Based on the idea of students committing to being safe and sober drivers. Students permanently committed to their promise of never drink-driving, by adding a lock to our school bridge.  Ben reached out to hardware stores and Bunnings donated 100 padlocks.  Over 150 students made the pledge, making this event one of our most interactive of 2020.

Of the many things SADD has taught us, the power of social movements is undeniably one of the most relevant and useful skills in helping us transition through life, by advocating for specific causes to enact positive social change.

Impairment Prevention Bus – Similar to 2019, NZ Police brought in their IPT. Auckland Transport provided “drunk” impairment goggles.  We constructed an obstacle course for students to complete whilst wearing the goggles to reinforce the impact of intoxication on vision and abilities.  This activity reinforced the importance of driving sober to our school community through raising awareness.  

Alcohol Checkpoint with local Police – After the success of an event in 2019 we ran a similar event.  Members of our SADD group joined the Police at an alcohol checkpoint.  This year, students got a far more significant connection with local Police by being paired up with a Police Officer, who individually escorted each student to the checkpoint.  This buddy system allowed each student to ask questions and learn more about their day to day lives as Police Officers – a rare opportunity for people our age.  Our members gained a real insight into the Police as a career through this educational experience.

Cannabis Referendum –  Legalising Marijuana was a major topic of debate at school and elsewhere. As many students at ASHS could vote we decided that as a SADD group we could educate students and teachers about the effect Marijuana has on driving. We worked alongside other partners like Community Action on Youth & Drugs (CAYAD). Using poster drives and social media we showed the risks of using Marijuana whilst on the roads – an important factor for them to consider since roadside drug tests are not used in NZ (which many people are unaware of).

Traffic Observations – Our SADD group observed traffic outside our school and in front of our local Primary School to record broken road rules and see which ones were most commonly broken.

Throughout lockdown our SADD group created educational videos on road safety topics. This included keeping people up to date on how they were allowed to use their cars in lockdown. 

Additionally, we created interactive quizzes based on the road code to test students’ knowledge, to keep people engaged and updated on driving restrictions at the time.


While we thought 2020 was going to be a year of ups and downs, we had no idea that 2021 would come with as many challenges as it did. With Ben graduating the year before, Aimee, Akshara and Jess remained to help carry the team on.

Plans went down the drain when the next wave of the COVID-19 hit. We were able to adapt and reconstruct our ideas to fit a digital world which allowed us to improve our collaboration and creativity skills. We became more unique and creative in our approaches to capture our fellow classmates’ attention online by creating interactive videos, quizzes and resources. 

Road Safety Week – spreads awareness of road safety every May.  In 2021, the theme was Speed. ASHS hosted a few fun activities throughout the week to get students involved and make students more aware of our goal as a SADD group (to prevent loss on our roads). A consistent education tool, Kahoot quizzes allow for healthy competition, as well as learning whilst having fun. Kahoot is a big hit as our tutorial classes were able to play them during allocated time, helping bring our peers closer together.

The Road Safety themed game show – had two teams compete individually and as a group to answer road code themed questions. This event was done in a large open space to get as much engagement from students as possible. The game was based on ‘Family Feud’ in the individual rounds with competitors racing to answer a question first. The winning team won the prize of lollies. We then also opened up the questions to the audience to receive prizes too. This too was done to increase engagement in the event. It was great team bonding and great entertainment for observers.

Alcohol Checkpoint with local Police – Like the previous checkpoints, we had members of our SADD group join the Police.

Digital Connection – Throughout lockdown our SADD group produced short fun videos to keep people’s spirits up and educate others on road topics, including a video sharing the SADD Principles and a composite (TikTok style) video.

The favourite of them all was our video we made to the “Make it click” song from Ronald McDonald. We created videos at home that, when combined, formed the nostalgic song. It was a fun way to promote the safety of clicking our seatbelts when we are in the car.

Online Quiz – Our SADD group posted road code themed facts on our social media page. We then posted quizzes on these facts to test people’s memories. This was a great way to educate those who were trying to get their learner driver licence as well as refresh the knowledge of those who already had it. This even contributed to us winning the SADD social media challenge! 

Traffic Observation – group students stood by intersections near our school to record all the road rules broken. We recorded these results in a spreadsheet with the intention to forward this onto the Police.

SADD Wellington Conference – April 2021.  A 3-day event with heaps of fun activities that brought SADD members together from all around the North Island to have fun making resources for SADD groups to use within their schools. The conference better educated us on how SADD and their connections were working to improve people’s safety on our roads. This was a great chance to make new friends and share our passion with SADD’s message.

Research Collection Exercise – Late August 2021, SADD’s Youth Representative provided a link to a research survey into restricted licences and the Graduated Driver’s Licensing System (GLDS)

in senior high school students. SADD leaders were asked to share this as much as possible. ASHS provided 127 responses (out of a final total of 504). Senior Leadership at ASHS agreed we could send the survey out to the entire school through email. This support and flexibility was a large contributory factor in the success of the group.


Problems along the way:

We encountered various challenges, each teaching us new lessons and transferable skills about resilience, hard work and determination.

It was challenging to create a team of students motivated about SADD, due to the previous absence of a thriving SADD group in our school.  It was crucial to learn fast, we began to get creative and after a few months, the members all had become passionate about SADD and all heavily contributed to its success in 2019. 

A major challenge we faced were the COVID-19 Pandemic lockdowns. It meant several events we had planned and ready to go were cancelled. It was hard to plan events if we were not sure they would be able to happen. This meant we had to postpone events and instead try different campaigns that could be done from home. Lockdown decreased motivation for members to attend meetings. We came up with new fun activities to make them want to come.

Another challenge we faced was getting teacher approval for some of our events. Since at ASHS all our groups are student-led, often teachers were supportive of our ideas but occasionally we had teachers who disagreed with some of our ideas. Sometimes teachers would be very busy and unable to meet with us to give us approval. Additionally, we didn’t have a particular teacher who we could go to, and often community partners wanted to communicate with teachers/principals. We worked around this by creating relationships with our teachers and trying to work with their schedules.


Endurance can relate to the SADD group continuing to navigate the difficulties that arise or endurance can be present through the continuing impact of our event implementation or campaign periods and the continued presence or influence that these had on our school community.  

  • Maintaining endurance through actively involving all members in brainstorming, planning, decision making, and organising events
  • Group members were given frequent opportunities to express their ideas and influence the direction of our group 
  • We were cautious in avoiding the overload.  Members were encouraged to volunteer for tasks if they knew they had the time to complete them
  • ASHS groups are student-run, resulting in an absence of teacher presence in our weekly meetings……gave us the freedom to brainstorm and share ideas in a more comfortable environment
  • These protocols within our group created a fun and inclusive environment that fostered an enduring level of support from students  
  • Our padlock event held in 2020 created a wall of padlocks within a frequently used area in our school building…..created an enduring impact from our event that unconsciously reminds students of safe driving.  
  • The survey response rate was above the national norm……the level of participation was as high because we had embedded the topic of road safety and the opportunity for a youth voice to be heard.  The endurance test was in asking for contribution and getting it to a high level.


SADD’s impact is significant and diverse. SADD not only provides unique experiences to students but also encourages and develops skill sets that play a crucial role in expanding ourselves as individuals. 

Attending the SADD Conference was a great opportunity to further develop our initiative, creativity, and goal-setting skills, whilst preparing us for success within our SADD group, and broader life.  

The four of us came to acknowledge that we have achieved far more in SADD as a group than any of us had ever envisioned. Our success is largely due to the support from SADD’s team, our group’s motivation, as well as our school’s structures that empowered us to succeed. 

On a more individual level, the four of us went away separately and came up with the main transferable skills we each gained through our experience with SADD.  Interestingly, we came up with five main transferable skills that we all gained through our time with SADD:

Transferable skills

Project Management:

SADD allows students to lead the way in all aspects. This allows the opportunity (to manage) large projects and events. A good thing about SADD is how it is all led by us, so we can decide how large a scale we want our events to be in line with our confidence levels and abilities. It has allowed for the gradual growth of our project management skills. We have learned from our original mistakes and have become more streamlined with how we delegate tasks to the rest of our team. SADD has allowed for the development of these skills without judgement, and with plenty of support along the way (through ideas, workshops etc)

The supportive nature of SADD allowed us each to make mistakes.  These mistakes were crucial in our learning process and taught us valuable lessons.  SADD provided a safe space for this learning to occur.


We have all been fortunate to become National and Regional Leaders for SADD which has allowed us to meet other inspiring young leaders with the same passion as us.  SADD provided us with leadership sessions, mentoring, and short courses ranging from collaboration to networking. We were able to improve both our strengths and weaknesses as leaders. 

Social Activism:

SADD’s mission is to give young people a platform for social activism – (which) was not at the forefront of our minds in creating safer roads or changing the mindsets of our peers. Yet once we started using it as a tool, we discovered how effective it is at challenging our peers’ ideas of safety and what is “right”. We discovered how empowering it can be, how to create social change and how to effectively use our platform to make a difference.

Absorption and interpretation of complex information:

Before getting involved in SADD, road safety for us and many young people often felt inaccessible and distant as conversations about it were mostly from people of vastly different ages to ourselves. Through working with SADD,  road safety became easier to engage with and relate to our own lives.

Through working closely with other community partners, we have been able to learn about prominent road safety issues such as phone usage whilst driving. We have all kept up to date with current safety movements, as well as other relevant information about the topics. This knowledge helped us run educational events to pass on this knowledge to our peers.

Networking Skills and Connections:

SADD has opened up opportunities for us to network within and beyond our school community which has fostered networking and connection skills among us all, setting us all up for success in our future careers. 

Through inter-school events, regional conferences, and being a part of SADD’s leadership programme, we have all been exposed to various networks of young, motivated, like-minded individuals from beyond our school community. 

We also learnt how to connect and interact with others effectively.  We have each created a number of close friendships with other SADD members from across Aotearoa. 

Being leaders of a SADD group has highlighted the importance of working well with our members, and hence our connection skills with others have also been strengthened through our journey with SADD. 


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