Safe Kids Kansas

Preventing Accidental Injury.

May 2, 2008

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

18th Annual Kansas Kids Fitness & Safety Day Held May 2
"Gear Up for Safety"

Almost 700 third grade students were on hand Friday, May 2, actively moving across the grounds of Cedar Crest in Topeka. The 2008 Kansas Kids Fitness and Safety Day, sponsored by the Governor’s Council on Fitness, Safe Kids Kansas, Kansas Health Foundation and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, included events to promote physical activity and prevent accidental injury. Activities celebrated the 20 th Anniversary of Safe Kids Worldwide and Kansas Safe Kids Week 2008 – “Gear Up for Safety.”

Events took place not only at Cedar Crest, but also at historic Ft. Larned, and at 38 other sites across Kansas. Over 20,000 third graders, their teachers, and parents participated. Activities at Cedar Crest opened with remarks from Lauren Michalson, the Kansas Safety Star for 2008. Athletes from the Coyotes Indoor Football team from Topeka 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. We have great news to share - a study of childhood accidental injury released on Monday found that the accidental injury death rate for children ages 14 and under is down 45 percent in the United States since 1987. Unfortunately accidental injuries remain the number one killer and disabler of American children ages one to 14,” said Jan Stegelman, Coordinator of Safe Kids Kansas. “This year’s theme for Safe Kids Week, ‘Gear Up for Safety’ focuses on the top 10 safety tips for parents that will have a major impact on reducing accidental childhood injuries and deaths.”

Lauren Michalson, age 16, of Overland Park, 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 July of 2006 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 brig 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.”

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). Statewide, all children participating in Kansas Kids Fitness and Safety Day received health and safety enrichment packets, indoor hyper flyers, jump ropes and reflective zipper pulls to encourage safety and physical activity.

Kansas Kids Fitness and Safety Day is an opportunity to impress upon youth the importance of being safe and active. A report released by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) on September 30, 2004, states that while “children’s health has made tremendous strides over the past century, we begin the 21st century with a shocking development - an epidemic of obesity in children and youth.” Studies conducted by Kansas Department of Health and Environment indicate that the percentage of Kansas youth who were overweight or at risk for overweight was 25 percent in 2007 (YRBS 2007). At the same time, 55 percent of Kansas youth reported that they did not participate in the recommended amount of physical activity (60 minutes/day for at least 5 days per week). Complete results from the 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Survey results can be found at

For a copy of the national study or for more information about how parents and policymakers can keep kids safe, visit

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, Elk, Ellis, Finney, Ford, Franklin, Geary, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Labette, Leavenworth, Marion, Marshall, McPherson, Meade, Mitchell, Montgomery, Osage, Pottawatomie, Republic, Rice, Riley, Saline, Smith, Shawnee, Wilson and Woodson Counties, as well as the cities of Chanute, Emporia, Leavenworth, 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.

Note to reporters:
Attached is a list of the Kansas Kids Fitness and Safety day local and regional host sites and a list of the schools participating in the Cedar Crest and Ft Larned events. The full 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Survey results can be found at For a copy of the abstract reported in the April 5 issue of JAMA visit For a copy of the Safe Kids Worldwide research report visit


Parent Safety Checklist: What You Can Do to Keep Kids Safe

Safe Kids USA has developed a safety checklist on the top injury risks to children and the steps parents can take that will have a major impact in keeping their kids safe. Check this list and learn what additional actions you can take to protect the children in your life.


Safety Goal

Yes / No

1. Child passenger safety

I ensure that my children under age 13 are properly secured in a back seat of a car for every ride.


2. Car seat selection

I make sure to keep my children in the right type of car seat or booster seat until the adult lap and shoulder belts fit them correctly.


3. Wheel safety

I make sure that my children wear a helmet and other protective gear every time they bike, skate, skateboard, or ride a scooter.


4. Pedestrian safety

I teach my children to cross streets at corners and look left, right and left again before crossing.

I also make sure that children under age 10 always cross streets with an adult.


5. Water safety

I always keep my eyes on my children when they are playing in or near water.


6. Open water safety

I always make sure my children wear life jackets when riding on boats or playing in or near open bodies of water.


7. Fire safety and Poison prevention

I have smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors installed on every level of my home and outside of every sleeping area.

I change the batteries once a year, and test the alarm every month.


8. Suffocation prevention

I do not place blankets, pillows or other soft items in a baby’s crib.

I keep small items such as toy parts, coins, buttons, and beads away from children under age three.


9. Poison prevention

I keep poisonous items, such as medicines and cleaners, locked away and out of reach of children.


10. Fall prevention

I do not let children play on stairs, furniture, balconies, roofs, or in driveways, streets or parking lots.