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The power of sharing the story of your crash or your loved one’s crash

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Upcoming trainings on October 20 and 27 to help you share your story

It takes a toll on Julie Mitchell when she tells the story of how her beloved son Dylan was hit and killed by a speeding truck driver in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood.

“It can be exhausting and triggering,” says Julie. “Yet at the same time, it’s empowering because my words can break through to people that are making important decisions. I try to put others in my shoes for a moment and hope that it sticks with them forever.”

Julie’s story likely will be remembered by someone who hears it. When we listen to someone talk about an experience like a crash, the narrative activates a part of our brain that turns the story into our own experience. We are wired to respond to human stories with compassion and empathy.

This means Julie’s bravery in telling her story to elected officials and city leaders can have a huge impact. These are the people who decide how our streets are designed and where safety is prioritized over speed. Julie’s story makes their decisions real.

Julie has told her story many times: at the State Capitol, on the steps of City Hall, at public meetings, and with the media. She does it as an advocate and as a founding member of San Francisco Bay Area Families for Safe Streets to prevent other families from going through what she has.

Your story matters, too

Are you someone who has survived a traffic crash, or had a loved one hurt or killed in a crash?

This month, the San Francisco Bay Area Families for Safe Streets chapter is co-hosting two free workshops to help you to develop and share your story. Sign up for one or both below.

  • The Strategies and Emotions of Telling Our Stories: October 20, 5 pm PST (virtual)
    Tips, tricks, and handling the emotional roller coaster of sharing our stories
    Led by Jacy Goode, crash survivor, affected family member, Hang Up and Drive
    RSVP here.
  • How to Speak to and Engage the Press: October 27, 5 pm PST (virtual)
    Guidance for conducting interviews, writing Op-Eds, responding to social media, and more. Led by Melissa Balmer, writer, speaker, active mobility media specialist, former Media Director, California Bicycle Coalition. RSVP here.

We also hope you will join us in-person at World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims on Sunday, November 21st at 3 PM to stand in solidarity with those who have been impacted by traffic crashes. This event is hosted by San Francisco Bay Area Families for Safe Streets and Walk SF.

Questions? Want to talk one-on-one about a crash that’s impacted you? Reach out to me anytime.

Photo credit: Families for Safe Streets New York City