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September 27, 2007

Oct. 3-4: International Walk to School Day events

C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, Safe Kids Washtenaw Co., FedEx lead local activities to teach kids how to be safe pedestrians

ANN ARBOR, MI – As part of International Walk to School Day – observed Oct. 3 and Oct. 4 – the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital Pediatric Trauma Program has partnered with Safe Kids Washtenaw County and FedEx volunteers to lead local activities that will teach kids how to be safe pedestrians.

WalkingThe group plans to visit Mitchell Elementary School and Angell Elementary School in Ann Arbor to call attention to unsafe roadways and to work to improve the walking environment in the city. More than 300 children are expected to participate in the events. 

Across the country, pedestrian injuries are the second leading cause of accidental death among children ages 5 to 14. Each year, more than 630 children in the United States are killed and 33,000 are treated in emergency rooms as a result of pedestrian injuries.

According to injury statistics, children who are African American, male, living in high density areas or residing in low-income households are at the greatest risk for pedestrian injuries. From 1995 and 2005, however, the number of child pedestrian fatalities decreased by 51 percent.

More parents like Annette Foland, whose child attends Angell Elementary School, are getting involved to help prevent such injuries.

"I got involved as a parent volunteer to help cross elementary school age children on Geddes Avenue after my then-fourth-grade-daughter had just avoided being hit by a speeding car,” says Foland. “Having a voluntary crossing system has helped reinforce a good habit of walking to school, and contributes to keeping Ann Arbor green and beautiful."

Walking is an important and healthy activity, but everyone needs to do their part to keep this activity safe for kids, says Safe Kids Washtenaw County Coordinator Cindy Wegryn. 

“Parents and caregivers need to teach children safe behaviors. But drivers must be aware and on the lookout for children on or near the road too,” says Wegryn, an administrative specialist with the Pediatric Trauma Program at Mott.

Throughout the year, the Safe Kids Walk This Way program teaches children about important tips and behaviors for safe walking. As part of the 2007 program, Safe Kids coalitions in hundreds of communities across the country will hold local educational events to shine a light on a particular pedestrian safety issue.  Some important local issues include unsafe intersections, streets where there are no safe sidewalks, and dangerous areas where more than one pedestrian has either been hit or almost injured by a car.

To learn more about Safe Kids Washtenaw County initiatives to improve child pedestrian safety, contact Cindy Wegryn at 734-615-3301. For more information about preventing child pedestrian injuries, visit www.usa.safekids.org/wtw.

Safe Kids Washtenaw County works to prevent accidental childhood injury, the leading cause of death for children ages 14 and younger. Safe Kids Washtenaw County – led by U-M C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital – is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing accidental injury. 

Safe Kids Walk This Way, a grassroots pedestrian safety initiative in more than 500 schools nationwide, is made possible through support from FedEx. Through this year-round program, children learn safe pedestrian behaviors; school communities identify the pedestrian hazards surrounding their schools; and school pedestrian safety committees and task forces lead efforts to educate pedestrians and drivers about safe behaviors, enforce traffic laws and improve environments for child pedestrians.

International Walk to School Day is dedicated to walking to school with a purpose — to promote physical activity, safety, health and concern for the environment. International Walk to School Day is promoted nationally by The Partnership for a Walkable America.  To learn more, visit www.walktoschool.org.

Written by Krista Hopson

 

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