Plans for Safe Kids in full swing

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 26, 2005

Contributed report

Plans for Safe Kids 2005 at Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital are in full swing as organizers iron out the details of the September 10 event. Scheduled to coincide with National Childhood Injury Prevention Week, Safe Kids 2005 will be held in the hospital’s parking lot from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will feature events for children of all ages.

“We started the event last year as Kid Safe and, after joining Safe Kids Worldwide through the Tuscaloosa Safe Kids coalition, we’ve changed the name and added more vendors and events,” said Stacey Wilson, who’s organizing the event. “Safe Kids Worldwide is a global network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury, a leading killer of children 14 and under. More than 450 coalitions in 16 countries bring together health and safety experts, educators, corporations, foundations, governments and volunteers to educate and protect families.

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“Accidental injury effects 20.6 million children each year nationwide,” said Mike Marshall, CEO/Administrator. “More than 22,000 of those children die from their injuries and 60,000 more are permanently disabled. Sponsoring Safe Kids gives us the opportunity to help area children have fun while at the same time learning how to avoid being hurt in accidents.”

A highlight of the day will be Safety City, sponsored by the West Alabama Community Traffic Safety Program. “They’ll set up a miniature city in our parking lot, complete with street signs and traffic signals,” Wilson said. “Children will go through on their bicycles and receive individual instruction in traffic safety. Children in grades 3 and up will also have an opportunity to travel the streets of Safety City in the go-carts that will be provided on site.” The “temporary residents” of Safety City will learn about pedestrian, bicycle, auto, bus, and train safety, along with safety hazards.

At the same time a team of certified Child Safety Passenger Technicians (CSPT) from Bryan Whitfield’s HealthStart Program will conduct free child safety seat inspections, which last about 15 to 30 minutes each. Technicians will lead the parents step-by-step through the process of installing the seats with plenty of one-on-one teaching. “In the two years I have been inspecting child safety seats, I’ve never found one properly installed,” said Stacey Wilson, HealthStart Coordinator. “Misuse is found in all races, education level and socio-economic status,” she says “and 97% of all drivers believe they use their child safety seat properly while in reality, only 20% actually have them installed properly.”

Children are also encouraged to bring their bikes for the Bicycle Inspection. “We have a complete checklist of items to look for on a bicycle, and our team of inspectors will go through the whole thing, and give the children a list of items they need to bring to their parents’ attention,” Wilson said.

Also included on the list of events for the day will be visits from Louie the Lightning Bug from Alabama Power Company, Buddy the Beaver from the Army Corps of Engineers and the Tooth Fairy with free toothbrushes for everyone, as well as fingerprinting by the Demopolis Police Department and ambulance and fire truck tours sponsored by Tombigbee EMS and the Demopolis Fire Department. Rounding out the event will be a free lunch of hotdogs and soft drinks from noon to 1 p.m.

“A hospital is more than just a place to go when you’re sick or hurt,” Marshall added, “We want area residents to know that we’re also a valuable resource in their efforts to lead healthy lives. Events like this give us the opportunity to share that knowledge with the public.”

For additional information on this and other classes and events sponsored by the Tombigbee Healthcare Authority, visit or call 287-2626.