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Dennis Cooley, MD
Safe Kids Buckle Up celebrates 10 years of community programs
New national association with Boys & Girls Clubs of America unveiled during Safe Kids Kansas Events
In celebration of a decade of checking car seats and holding safety events through the Safe Kids Buckle Up program, Safe Kids Coalitions in Kansas are holding 11 special events to help educate families how to stay safer in and around vehicles. The national 10-year celebration will include 100 events across the country during the coming week.
Since the Safe Kids Buckle Up program began in Kansas 10 years ago, 21,476 child safety seats, booster seats, and special needs child seats have been provided to low-income Kansas families. As part of the Buckle Up program, local chapters and coalitions also hold child safety seat check up events at local General Motors dealerships and community locations throughout the state. Safe Kids Kansas also operates two Mobile Child Safety Seat Check Up Vans to facilitate child safety seat checks in local communities. In the last six years, 42,246 seats have been checked at 1,633 van and community check up events. In addition to scheduled events, permanent child passenger safety fitting stations are operating in 105 locations around the state. Safe Kids also sponsors, in partnership with State Farm Companies and the Kansas Department of Transportation, the Bucks for Buckles Program that rewards drivers and passengers in over 45 Kansas communities who are “caught” properly restrained. The Safe Kids Kansas Buckle Up program has been credited with 21 lives saved in the past seven years, and is the recipient of the Excellence in Accountability Award from Safe Kids Worldwide.
On August 10, Safe Kids Worldwide, the parent organization to Safe Kids Kansas, announced an association with Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) to provide child safety education to a broader group of youth who are at high risk of being injured in and around an automobile.
While specifics of the collaboration are still being developed, it enables Safe Kids Buckle Up to bring its roster of safety programs and activities directly to children and their families at local Boys & Girls Clubs around the United States. BGCA’s vast network of more than 4,000 neighborhood-based clubs serves some 4.8 million young people in all 50 states and U.S. military bases worldwide. Meanwhile, Safe Kids USA has more than 600 local coalitions and chapters nationally.
Nationally, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death to children ages 2 to 14. Thousands of additional children are also injured or killed in non-traffic related vehicle incidents, such as backovers, trunk entrapments and heat stroke after being left unattended in a vehicle.
Despite reaching millions through the Safe Kids Buckle Up program, recent research shows that essential injury prevention interventions are still not reaching enough high risk families, including some African-American, Hispanic, Native American, and low-income families. The injury rate for African-American children ages 0-14 is more than twice the rate of injury for Caucasian children (per 100,000) as motor vehicle occupants, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Hispanic children ages 0 to 14 also have a 25 percent higher injury death rate from motor vehicles when compared to non-Hispanic children.
More than 60 percent of the BGCA’s members are from minority communities, and 88 percent are 15 years old or younger.
“This new association with Boys & Girls Clubs of America is particularly important because it will allow us another avenue to bring these programs directly to families; we can’t expect children who are at a high risk for injury to come to us,” said Jan Stegelman, Safe Kids Kansas Coordinator. “It’s a natural collaboration. The Boys & Girls Clubs of America have the families, and we have the lifesaving information.”
Nancy Ali, the vice president of resource development for the BGCA agreed. “With the help of Safe Kids, we can now bring additional health and life skills training directly to families through our Club staff and members,” Ali said. “Clubs provide safe places for kids to learn and grow, and traffic safety is one of those life-saving skills that needs to be taught early and often in a child’s life.”
Financial support from the General Motors Foundation allows more than 600 local Safe Kids coalitions and chapters to provide safety programs and activities at locations across the country, now including BGCA community centers. These programs are offered at no cost to either non-profit organizations or the families served. GM is the sole corporate sponsor of Safe Kids Buckle Up – the longest-running corporate/non-profit partnership in child passenger safety. The automaker and its foundation have provided $50 million in financial support and vehicles over the past decade through 2009.
“We have been very fortunate in Kansas,” Stegelman said. “General Motors Dealerships all around the state have partnered with us to provide this public service to our citizens.”
“GM and Safe Kids have worked together to help educate millions of families on how best to protect their most precious cargo in and around vehicles,” said Rod Gillum, GM vice president, Corporate Responsibility and Diversity. “While it’s an achievement that we’re very proud of, we recognize that the job is not finished. That’s why we’re honored to support this bridge between Safe Kids Buckle Up and Boys & Girls Clubs to bring safety programs directly to children and families in need of this information. In fact, I cannot think of a better way to celebrate a decade of community outreach.”
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.safekidskansas.org.