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Thursday, August 23, 2007

New Program Announced to Help Educate Families of At-Risk Children about Dangers of Motor Vehicles

General Motors and Boys & Girls Clubs of America Celebrate 10 years of Community Programs by Announcing New Association With Safe Kids Buckle Up

Safe Kids Buckle Up, a program of Safe Kids Worldwide and General Motors, has joined up with Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) to offer child safety education to young people who are at high risk of being injured in and around motor vehicles.

Automobile crashes are the number one cause of child fatality ages 2 to 14. Children are also injured or killed in non-traffic-related vehicle incidents, such as backovers, trunk entrapments, and heat stroke caused by being left unattended in a vehicle.

The association makes it possible for Safe Kids Buckle Up to bring its program of safety programs and activities directly to children and their families at local Boys & Girls Clubs around the country. BGCA's huge network of over 4,000 neighborhood-based Clubs serves some 4.8 million young people in all 50 states and U.S. military bases worldwide. What's more, Safe Kids has more than 600 local coalitions and chapters across the nation.

The collaboration coincides with the 10-year anniversary of Safe Kids Buckle Up programs, which teaches families about keeping children safe in and around automobiles.

Recent research shows that essential injury prevention education is still not getting through to enough high-risk families, including some African-American, Hispanic, Native American, and low-income families. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the injury rate for African-American children ages 0 to 14 is more than double the rate for Caucasian children (per 100,000) as motor vehicle passengers. Hispanic children ages 0 to 14 also have a 25 percent higher injury death rate as compared to non-Hispanic children. Over 60 percent of BGCA's members are from minority communities, and 88 percent are 15 year old or younger.

Research also shows that children ages 6 to 10 that are still too small to fit properly into an adult safety belt often do not use booster seats in vehicles. In the event of a crash, not using the booster seat could lead to more serious injuries.

"This new association with Boys & Girls Clubs of America is particularly important because it will allow our coalitions to bring these programs directly to a larger number of underserved families," said Dr. Martin Eichelberger, founder and chairman, Safe Kids Worldwide, the parent organization of Safe Kids Buckle Up. "We can't expect children who are at a high risk for injury to come to us."

"It's a natural collaboration. Boys & Girls Clubs of America has the families and we have the life-saving information," he added.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is a strong supporter of the Safe Kids Buckle Up program. Recently, Nicole Nason, the administrator of NHTSA, became a certified child passenger safety technician by completing a rigorous three-day training course.

"Keeping all children safer in vehicles is one of our top priorities," Nason said. "Programs like Safe Kids Buckle Up have helped change the culture of child car seat safety in this country and are essential to ensure we protect our most precious passengers."

Agreeing with Administrator Nason was Nancy Ali, the vice president of development for BGCA.

"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."

The GM Foundation is the sole corporate sponsor of Safe Kids Buckle Up - the longest-running corporate/non-profit partnership in child passenger safety - and the financial support lets more than 600 local Safe Kids coalitions and chapters offer safety programs and activities at locations across the country, which now include BGCA community centers. These programs are offered at no cost to either non-profit organizations or the families served. The automaker and its foundation have made available $50 million in financial support and vehicles over the past decade.

Rod Gillum, GM vice president, Corporate Responsibility and Diversity, said, "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. 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 of America 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."

To celebrate 10 years of safety programs, GM and Safe Kids Buckle up hosted a special event in Detroit on Saturday, August 11, next to the GM Renaissance Center. The event featured child safety seat check-ups by certified child passenger safety technicians, hands-on educational stations for children, refreshments, and a plethora of activities that were fun for the whole family.

Nearly 100 additional Safe Kids Buckle Up events took place at hospitals, GM dealerships and community centers across the country to correspond with the national celebration in Detroit.

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