1000 SW Jackson Suite 230
Dennis Cooley, MD
17th Annual Kansas Kids Fitness & Safety Day Held May 4
"Make It A Safe Kids Summer"
Almost 700 third grade students were on hand Friday, May 4, actively moving across the grounds of Cedar Crest in Topeka. The 2007 Kansas Kids Fitness and Safety Day, sponsored by the Kansas Council on Fitness, Safe Kids Kansas, and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, included events to promote physical activity and prevent accidental injury. Activities marked the celebration of National Safe Kids Week 2007 – “Make It A Safe Kids Summer.”
Events took place not only at Cedar Crest, but also at historic Ft. Larned, and at 37 other sites across Kansas. Over 17,000 third graders, their teachers, and parents participated. Activities at Cedar Crest opened with remarks from Roderick Bremby, Lynette Woodard and Lauren Michalson, the national Safety Star for 2007. Athletes from Washburn University led the group in stretching and warm-ups.
“Safe Kids Kansas is pleased to be able to participate in this statewide event which reinforces for children the fun and health benefits of noncompetitive physical activities and injury prevention. The start of the summer is known by emergency personnel as “trauma season,” since preventable accidental injuries increase dramatically,” said Jan Stegelman, Coordinator of Safe Kids Kansas. “Through public awareness activities such as these, Safe Kids seeks to educate children and parents about preventing accidental injuries.”
Lauren Michalson, age 15, of Overland Park, recently returned from Washington D.C. where she shared her summer injury story with policymakers and national media. Last July Lauren and her family were vacationing in Crested Butte, Colo. Like so many 12-year-old boys, her brother Tommy was a huge skateboarding fan. So it was no surprise that he spent much of his vacation time at a nearby skate park. Following family rules, Tommy always wore his helmet when he rode at the skate park.
About a week into their vacation, the family was walking down a recreation path. Their plan was to drop Tommy off at the skate park while the rest of the family did some shopping. Part way along, they realized that Tommy forgot to bring his helmet. He and Lauren were going to head back to pick it up when Tommy decided he would skip the skate park that day.
Tommy then began to skateboard down the path, stopping periodically to wait for the family to catch up. At one point, Tommy skated down a hill, out of sight from the rest of the family. A short time later, the family noticed a sheriff’s car and heard the siren of an approaching ambulance. They began to worry and started running in Tommy’s direction.
They found him on the ground, unconscious and bleeding from his nose. They were LifeFlighted to the hospital. The Michalsons were told that Tommy had fractured the base of his skull, causing a severe brain injury. Later that night, despite the doctors’ best efforts, Tommy passed away. Tommy had no internal injuries or broken bones – just a fractured skull. If he had been wearing a helmet that fateful morning, he might not have suffered a fatal injury.
“This is not a story that I am happy to tell you, but my hope is that sharing Tommy’s story will help reinforce the importance of always wearing a helmet when participating in any wheeled sport, even if it is just on the driveway or a sidewalk,” Lauren said. “Parents should also be aware that their children see images in games, videos and magazines of skateboarders NOT wearing helmets, and those images convey powerful misguided messages to kids.”
Lauren has spoken to the student body at Overland Trail Middle School and recently shared the family’s story at a press conference in Washington D.C. She has spoken to lawmakers, kids and parents in both Washington D.C. and Kansas. She distributes stickers that remind kids to “Protect Your Head So You Can RAFT” (Ride Again For Tommy). As the Safe Kids Kansas “Safety Star,” she will appear at safety events and continue to share her experience.
In addition to general physical activities, participants at Cedar Crest and other local sites tested their safety skills in interactive relays that included Stop, Drop & Roll, Dial 9-1-1 and BEEP BEEP (a smoke alarm test) as well as Swim Safe (life jackets). Children at Cedar Crest also met Coastie, a robot in the form of a Coast Guard tugboat, who presented a water safety message. Statewide, all children participating in Kansas Kids Fitness and Safety Day received health and safety enrichment packets and jump ropes to encourage physical activity.
Kansas Kids Fitness and Safety Day is an opportunity to impress upon youth the importance of being safe and physically active. A recent study published in the April 5 issue of JAMA reported the prevalence of overweight children and adolescents in the United States has risen to 17.1 percent in 2003-2004. The prevalence of overweight in female children and adolescents increased from 13.8 percent in 1999 – 2000 to 16 percent in 2003 – 2004. The prevalence of overweight in male children and adolescents rose from 14 percent to 18.2 percent in the same time period. The 2005 Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted in Kansas High Schools reported that 13.3 percent of students surveyed were at risk for becoming overweight and 11.9 percent of students were overweight. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that children and adolescents participate in 60 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week, preferably daily. The benefits associated with regular physical activity include: weight control, increased muscular strength, improved bone mass, improved cardiovascular fitness, decreased blood pressure, improved self-esteem, reduced anxiety and stress. In 2005, only 41.3 percent of Kansas high school students reported being physically active for a total of 60 minutes per day on five or more days of the past seven days. Complete results from the 2005 Youth Risk Behavior Survey results can be found at www.kshealthykids.org.
A new study released this week by Safe Kids Worldwide ranked Kansas as 31 st out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia according to children’s accidental injury deaths in summer – a deadly time of year for children. The study found that an average of 17 children per day die from May to August due to injuries, many of which could be prevented. For a copy of the study or for more information about how parents and policymakers can make the summer safer for children, visit www.usa.safekids.org.
Safe Kids Kansas, Inc. is a nonprofit Coalition of 67 statewide organizations and businesses dedicated to preventing accidental injuries to Kansas children ages 0-14. Local coalitions and chapters are located in Allen, Anderson, Atchison, Clay, Coffey, Dickinson, Doniphan, Douglas, Ellis, Finney, Ford, Franklin, Geary, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Labette, Leavenworth, Marion, Marshall, McPherson, Meade, Mitchell, Montgomery, Nemaha, Osage, Pottawatomie, Republic, Rice, Riley, Saline, Smith, Shawnee, Wabaunsee, Wilson and Woodson Counties, as well as the cities of Chanute, Emporia, Leavenworth, Norton, Pittsburg, the Wichita Area and the Metro Kansas City Area. Safe Kids Kansas a member of Safe Kids Worldwide , a global network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury. The lead agency for Safe Kids Kansas is the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. For more information visit www.kansassafekids.org.
The full 2005 Youth Risk Behavior Survey results can be found at www.kshealthykids.org. For a copy of the abstract reported in the April 5 issue of JAMA visit
http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/295/13/1549 For a copy of the Safe Kids Worldwide research report visit www.usa.safekids.org.