"Battle Of The Belts", Friendly Competition Between Schools Hits Richland County


February 15, 2023 | View PDF

The Richland County School that wins the 22/23 Battle of the Belts will be presented with a wrestling style belt as an award for their efforts. (Photo by Jaymi Mozeak)

This year, during the 2C district basketball tournament in Sidney, fans are seeing something new in banners, posters, and even the backs of fan signs. "The Battle of the Belts".

The "Battle of the Belts" is a program that is being implemented in schools throughout Richland County by the Richland County Health Department Injury Prevention & DUI Task Force to increase seat belt use in Richland County. It is a six-week countywide seat belt competition. All of Sidney's public schools, Fairview, Savage, Brorson, and Liberty Christian were able to participate. By Dec. 2 the schools had to start with an unannounced seat belt check to get a baseline of how many students are wearing their seat belts. Then, a student-driven education campaign had to be launched at each school, followed by another unannounced seat belt check after six weeks. The last seat belt check must be held by March 31. A championship wrestler's belt will be awarded to the school with the highest percentage of seat belt use and the best educational campaign on the first Friday in April. Sidney High School will have banners up with the slogan "Don't Leave Your Life on the Road" and the Richland County Health Department Injury Prevention & DUI Task Force will have a table at the event.

Emergency Preparedness Injury Prevention & DUI Task Force Coordinator Don Smies is proud to bring Battle of the Belts to Richland County Schools thanks to Operation Round Up and a grant from the Montana Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (Photo by Jaymi Mozeak)

"Battle of the Belts" is modeled after a program in Missouri that is put on by the Missouri Emergency Nurses Association and St. John's Hospital. The Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety in conjunction with American Family Insurance made the competition statewide. It was a huge success. The program has proven to increase seatbelt use and now other states, including Montana, are trying it out. Here in Richland County, Don Smies Richland County Health Department Injury Prevention & Dui Task Force is wanting this to be a friendly competition between all the schools.

The program is being made possible through a series of grants from the Montana Department of Transportation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and Lower Yellowstone Rural Electric Cooperative. Operation Round Up Trustee, Angie Olson, presented Smies with a check for $1,000 for the program. The project is expected to reach up to 1872 students, parents, and caregivers.


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