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Posted June 27, 2013
All Children's SAFE KIDS Coalition Celebrates 20 Years of Success

 Alexander Castanon receives a Safe Kids Safety Star Award
Alexander Castanon receives a Safe Kids Safety Star Award from Captain Corrinne Stannish of the Sarasota Police Department and Cindy Rose, ACH Vice President of Marketing and Community Relations
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The messages were both sobering and hopeful, sorrowful and inspiring, Wednesday afternoon at the 20th Annual Meeting & Appreciation Luncheon of the Florida Suncoast Safe Kids Coalition at All Children's Hospital. It was a time to celebrate acts of heroism and important strides, yet also understand that much work lies ahead in keeping children safe from unintentional injuries.

Kate Carr, President and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide, underscored the special anniversary of the alliance between All Children's and her organization by traveling from the national office in Washington, D.C. to tour the hospital and serve as keynote speaker at the gathering in the ECC Building.

Prior to making her presentation, Carr talked about her first in-person look at All Children's Hospital Hopkins Medicine - and a shared commitment to child safety.

"One of the most important things I'm doing in my job is getting around to visit our coalitions all around the country, and our member countries around the world," she said. "So today has been great. No. 1, you're in a beautiful city and the hospital facility is outstanding.  Wonderful people. First-rate care for kids. If I lived here, I would hope I wouldn't have to bring my kids here for a serious issue, but I'd sure beat a path here really quickly if I needed you."

Carr began her morning making a presentation to a small group of doctors and discussed multiple areas for further collaboration. "We can build upon what we've already accomplished that can keep kids even safer," she said.

She spent an hour with Dr. Anthony Napolitano, All Children's Chair of Pediatric Medicine, talking about "additional things we can do on some issues he feels very passionate about. And he gave me some great ideas. We're on the same mission but we have different strengths. And together we can learn from one another and together we can do so much more."

All Children's President and Vice Dean Dr. Jonathan Ellen welcomed Carr and the conference room filled with Safe Kids groups from all over the greater Tampa Bay area. "Many of you know that Johns Hopkins and All Children's have come together and I think that really bolsters our commitment to children and our commitment to community at All Children's," he said. "And I'm really proud of that fact. I think we will continue as a team to make great strides in protecting children from unintentional injuries."

Carr noted in her address that Safe Kids initiatives have decreased deaths from preventable injuries by 55 percent over the 25 years the organization has been in existence. She then stressed the importance of continuing the momentum "to change the future for our children, not only in the St. Petersburg-Tampa area, or in Florida, but across all of the United States and across all over the world."

She guides a global network of organizations dedicated to providing parents and caregivers with practical and proven resources to protect kids from unintentional injuries - the No. 1 cause of death of children in the United States.

Among the pressing initiatives, Carr emphasized, are helping Florida pass a mandatory booster-seat law for children until they reach a height of 4-feet-9 and weigh between 80 and 100 pounds.  "I'm here to say, we will help you," she told the crowd. "Whatever it takes we will help you get that law changed. There are only two states now that haven't passed a booster-seat law: Florida and South Dakota. I want every child until they are 4-feet, 9-inches tall to be able to ride safely in the car."

Carr also spoke of the tragic side of the Safe Kids mission, giving a heart-wrenching example of a little girl who was accidentally left by her father, whose normal driving routine had changed that day, in the back seat of the car and died of heat stroke. Her point: how easily a devastating unintentional injury can occur - even to the most responsible and caring of parents. "And to think that 15 families this year have already gone through that is heartbreaking to me," she said. "So we're calling on everyone to act."

In fact, A.C.T. is a Safe Kids initiative with an acronym that stands for 1) avoiding heat stroke, 2) creating reminders by putting something in the back seat where the child is and 3) taking action. "If you see a child alone in a car and no adult nearby, ready to open the door, dial 911," she said. "I know many of you would respond to that call. And I have heard time and time again that you would rather have a false alarm than a fatality. So let's work really hard to get that message out there."

In closing, Carr honored All Children's as a "Safe Kids champion for child safety" to mark 20 years of child-injury prevention. In addition, Cindy Rose, Vice president of Marketing and Community Relations,  and Director of Marketing Mary Mahoney presented a handful of other awards to those who went above and beyond on the safety front:

  • Shore Acres Elementary School PTA earned the Booster Seats Award. With funding from the Allstate Foundation, the PTA conducted a booster seat campaign in October, including educational efforts and distribution of 60 booster seats to children who needed them.
  • Water Safety Awards were given to several children: Sarasota 10-year-old Alexander Castanon was honored as a hero for saving the life of a 3-year-old girl who otherwise would have drowned this past April in an apartment complex pool; Georgia Scott's vigilance helped save her young friend from drowning in a swimming pool; and neighbors Laura Karlhofer and Chris Mathis helped save the life of a 2-year-old who tripped trying to catch a ball, hit his head and fell into a pool where there was no adult supervision.
  • Gretchen Souly of Sexton Elementary School was given the Bike Helmet Award. During National Bicycle Month in May, she impressed organizers with her enthusiasm and knowledge of how to fit a bike helmet safely on a head.