(DOSWELL, VA)—DRIVE SMART Virginia and Virginia Farm Bureau have teamed up with sculptor Giovanni “John” Meola to create a permanent LOVEwork at The Meadow Event Park in Caroline County. The new sculpture will be unveiled at 10:30 a.m. May 1 during the inaugural Virginia Farm Festival at The Meadow.
The LOVEwork sculpture is part of DRIVE SMART Virginia’s “Love Clicks” campaign, which reminds vehicle occupants to buckle their seat belts for their loved ones. The Virginia Tourism Corporation’s LOVEworks program is a statewide initiative to promote travel in Virginia and strengthen awareness of the “Virginia is for Lovers” message.
“We created this campaign because everyone has a reason to buckle up, and someone they love that they want to make it home to,” said Janet Brooking, DRIVE SMART’s executive director. “We are delighted that Farm Bureau and The Meadow Event Park teamed up with us and provided a home for this beautiful piece of art. With a transportation-themed backdrop, we were able to deliver a premise of safety and caring.”
According to preliminary data from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, 48% of all road deaths in 2020 involved an unbuckled vehicle occupant.
“The safety of the roadways of Virginia—particularly our rural roads—is a top priority for us,” said Darlene Wells, executive vice president of Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. “Rural roads offer their own special challenges, such as slow moving vehicles and little to no shoulder, so we know they require extra vigilance and attention.”
Partnering with the farming community makes sense when it comes to seat belt safety since seat belt use is critical to the safe operation of farm equipment and, in general, unbuckled fatalities occur at higher rates on rural roads.
“Agriculture is Virginia’s largest private sector industry, and our ability to move agricultural products and continue market competitiveness depends strongly on the ability to transport goods safely on our roadways,” said Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “We cannot stress the importance of all drivers buckling up for safety.”
As you prepare for that next road trip, make sure everyone in the vehicle is buckled before you hit the road.
“‘Virginia is for Lovers’ is about doing the things you love to do on vacation with the people you love most,” said Rita McClenny, president and CEO of Virginia Tourism Corporation. “We also want visitors to drive safely and buckle up when they travel. This new LOVEwork will share those messages, encouraging visitors to travel safely as they discover why ‘Virginia is for Lovers.’”
The artist had a special motivation for volunteering to create the sculpture. “My inspiration arose from seeing a procession of grieving mothers at the Virginia General Assembly Building, holding pictures of children they had lost to car crashes,” Meola shared. “They were working to pass laws to enhance traffic safety. My thought was, ‘The least I can do is try to memorialize and enable their cause.’ I hope this ‘LOVE’ composition translates into comfort and relief. My heart goes out to these parents.”
Visitors to the Love Clicks sculpture are encouraged to bring a love lock with them and attach it to the sculpture to symbolize their commitment to buckling up. A love lock is a padlock that is fastened to a public fixture such as a bridge or monument. Several crash victims and their family members will be among the first to click a love lock onto the sculpture.
Visitors are asked to share photos on social media using #LOVEVA and #LoveClicks.
The LOVEworks project was supported by C & C Cullet Metals Recycling in Ashland and J.E. Liesfeld Contractors in Goochland.