Westmoreland Student Builds a Safe Driving Campaign...Using Lego® Blocks

Scholarship Recipient

Taylor Hanson Wins $2,500 in the Edgar Snyder & Associates "Words to be Heard" Scholarship Contest

May 15, 2014, Pittsburgh, PA - Greensburg Central Catholic High School senior Taylor Hanson won $2,500 in the Edgar Snyder and Associates "Words to be Heard" Scholarship Contest for a PSA to discourage drunk driving and texting while driving. Hanson, a Greensburg resident, produced a video that uses stop motion animated Lego characters to illustrate the dangers of unsafe driving.

"Words to be Heard" challenges students across Western PA to create projects discouraging their peers from underage drinking, drunk driving, or texting while driving. Students had the option of submitting entries in the form of videos, PowerPoint presentations, websites, essays, or any other creative format of their choice.

The star of Hanson's video is Sam, a Lego character who is on his way to a party. Sam makes a series of bad decisions, including excessive drinking, drunk driving, and texting while driving. Luckily for Sam, he is able to rewind each scene and try again, learning from his mistakes and making better choices. The video ends with a title screen that reads: "Unfortunately, unlike Sam, we do not have do-overs in life…the choice begins with you."

Attorney Edgar Snyder even had a cameo appearance as a Lego with a striking resemblance to the Pittsburgh injury attorney.

Hanson explains that, "although the video was done in a cutesy way, the message is really serious."

Although the video was done in a cutesy way, the message is really serious.Taylor Hanson, "Words to Be Heard" Scholarship Recipient

This is not the first video she has made using a Lego set borrowed from a friend. Last year she created a project for her religion class using the same type of animation. "Everyone thought it was really cute."

When she's not building a miniature movie set, Hanson participates in school musicals and plays, serves as an officer of the National Honor Society, and volunteers as a board member to community service clubs. This fall, she plans to attend Saint Vincent College to study biology, and hopes to go on to medical school or graduate school for an advanced degree.

Attorney Edgar Snyder, whose law firm has helped hundreds of victims of automobile accidents, personally presented Taylor with the $2,500 scholarship at an awards dinner Monday. Since the scholarship contest's inception in 2007, the law firm has awarded 70 scholarships totaling over $100,000.

"Year after year I am blown away by the new ways students present this message to make it resonate with their peers," says Attorney Edgar Snyder. "I think the biggest benefit to the students isn't the scholarship money itself, but the conversations started about the dangers of drunk driving and texting while driving."

Hanson received support and encouragement from her friend who loaned her the Legos and from her mom. "It was really fun working on the project because it wasn't just a PowerPoint or an essay, it was creative. I had a fun time doing it," she said.

The winners were selected during a luncheon at the offices of Edgar Snyder & Associates by a panel of judges who advocate teen safety in their communities: Debra Iwaniec, President of the Trooper Iwaniec Memorial Foundation and Health & Physical Education Teacher at Yough High School; Trooper Robin M. Mungo, PR Officer of the PA State Police, Troop B Pittsburgh; Brady Sheehan, Duquesne University Student and 2013 Words to be Heard Scholarship winner; Deputy Jason Tarap, Crime Prevention Specialist, Allegheny County Sheriff's Office; and Chris Vitale MSN, RN, Injury Prevention Manager at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

Six other winners were recognized for their submissions at the dinner ceremony: Zachary Nimmo of North Allegheny High School (Allegheny Co.) took home the grand-prize scholarship of $5,000. Two additional scholarships for $2,500 were awarded to Ryan King of Bishop McCort High School (Cambria Co.) and Whitney Shetler of Chestnut Ridge High School (Bedford Co.). Three $1,000 scholarships went to Taylor Childers of Thomas Jefferson High School (Allegheny Co.), Amber Machosky of Albert Gallatin Area High School (Fayette Co.), and Allyn Propheter of Maplewood High School (Crawford Co.).

View all of the winning entries and learn more about the "Words to be Heard" Scholarship Contest here.


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