Friday, July 20, 2012

Abróchate a la Vida

When I was a little girl, I don't even know if car seats were around. Maybe they were, but I certainly don't remember using one. In fact, I have two distinct memories. First, I can remember playing around in the back of our car while my mom was driving in the front. We used to have this game where she would ask, "Quién es la más bonita?" and I would sing back, "Yo!" Followed by "Quién es la más guapa?" ...and so on. But at the very end, she would ask, "Quién es la más fea?" I would scream "Baby King Kong!" and fling myself into the opposite corner, sometimes getting up by the rear windshield to escape my mother's tickling fingers.

The second memory I have is of my 'Buelita, who used to drive a little Gremlin (do you remember those cars??). She could barely see over the steering wheel and had to drive sitting forward to reach the pedals. And in the back, I would sit - unbuckled - pretending to drive using the back of the seat in front of me as a steering wheel.

Now, as a mother of two, I look back on those days with a good bit of horror. I'm so grateful that we were never involved in a wreck, because who knows if I'd be sitting here today writing about the importance of buckling up our kids.

And since those long ago days, I can remember hearing or reading about Latino children involved in accidents, who have died because they weren't wearing a seat belt.

In fact, did you know that:

• Car crashes are the number one killer of children in the US? And every year, more than 160,000 children are injured in car crashes.

• Latino children are less likely to be buckled up than non-Latino children across ALL age groups?

• AND that Latino children are more likely to die in a car crash?

All of this is why I am supporting the wonderful program, Buckle Up for Life, or Abróchate a la Vidaa national, community-based injury prevention initiative supporting the African American and Hispanic communities. They work with local hospitals and churches, to addresses the economic, cultural and, where appropriate, language barriers to motor vehicle safety.

The program was created via a partnership between Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and Toyota, and is the only program of its kind. During a six week program in a pilot city, they saw dramatic results; the program nearly tripled the number of children properly buckled up among the families who participated.

Gloria del Castillo is the program's National Coordinator. She says they saw the need to address the cultural issue, the financial issue, and the educational issue through the program. In addition to safety classes, participating families also receive a free car seat or booster seat, and are taught by certified child passenger safety techinicians on how to properly install them.

Programs are launching across the country and are available in Cincinnati, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Antonio, and are soon expanding to Houston, Las Vegas, Orange County, and Philadelphia.

To learn more about Buckle Up for Life, I encourage you to click here. Nothing is more precious than your child's life. And it doesn't take much to keep them safe in a vehicle.

Un abrazo...



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