‘Buckle Up for Life’ (Abróchate a la Vida) Safety Program Strives to Save Lives of Latino Families

Children enjoy food, arts & crafts and safety demonstrations at the 'Buckle Up for Life' event

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The MEXICO Report
By Susie Albin-Najera

Laura Rohnert, a child passenger safety technician and physical therapist with Children's Hospital Los Angeles, demonstrates how to install a car seat

On Saturday, April 30, 2011, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), co-hosted a “Celebration of Safety” in conjunction with the ‘Buckle Up for Life’ program, at an event held at Our Lady of Guadalupe church in East Los Angeles, California.

Approximately 50 families were part of the celebration marking the completion of an eight-week child passenger safety training course taught in Spanish. Participants learned how to properly install child safety seats and were taught about vehicle safety, injury prevention, car seat inspections and more.

Families who did not previously own a child car safety seat or whose car seats were expired or recalled were given a new one, compliments of the program.

Buckle Up For Life, or “Abróchate a la Vida,” was created by medical trauma specialists at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and funded through a grant from Toyota. The program is designed to educate Hispanic families on the importance of keeping their families safe while driving.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hispanic children are four times less likely to use seat belts or child restraints and three times more likely to die in a motor vehicle crash than Caucasian children. 

Father Nelson Trinidad addresses the community; Photo Credit: Cincinnati Children’s/photographer Luigino De Grandis

“We were seeing a disproportionate number of Hispanic children coming into the hospital with severe crash-related injuries and we knew we had to do something about it,” said Dr. Rebeccah L. Brown, Associate Director, Trauma Services at Cincinnati Children’s.  

Father Nelson Trinidad blessed the new car seats; Photo Credit: Cincinnati Children’s/photographer Luigino De Grandis

Senator Ed Hernandez, who represents California Senate District 24, presented certificates to representatives of Toyota, CHLA, CCHMC, and Our Lady of Guadalupe church. 

“Events like this are extremely important to keep children safe and to get the word out,” said Senator Hernandez.

Senator Ed Hernandez; Photo Credit: Cincinnati Children’s/photographer Luigino De Grandis

Community support for this program has been tremendous, even gaining endorsements from local elected officials such as Council Members Jose Huizar and Richard Alarcón.  Alarcón feels especially connected to this issue, having lost a child in a motor vehicle accident.

“As a father who has lost a child in a car crash, I know how devastating auto accidents can be for our families and our communities, and it’s startling to know that vehicle crash injuries are one of the leading causes of death in Latino children in the United States,” said Council Member Alarcón. 

Buckle Up for Life Program; Photo Credit: Cincinnati Children’s/photographer Luigino De Grandis

“What we saw when we began Buckle Up for Life in Greater Cincinnati was that, after participating in the program, the number of adults and children using seat belts and car seats had more than doubled,” said Pat Pineda, Toyota’s group vice president of national philanthropy.   “When we saw those results, we knew we had found a successful and sustainable model that was meeting the pressing needs of the community.”

Left to right: Lupita C. Garza - Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Andrea White - Toyota Motor Sales, Father Nelson Trinidad, Senator Ed Hernandez; Photo Credit: Cincinnati Children’s/photographer Luigino De Grandis

“Injury and death due to vehicle-related injuries is preventable,” said Dr. Jeffery S. Upperman, Director of Trauma at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “If we can save just one child’s life, all of our efforts have been worth it.” 

For more information, visit:

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
www.childrenshospitalla.org/

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/

Toyota Philanthropy
http://www.toyota.com/about/philanthropy/

Car seat info: http://www.carseat.org/

Recalls: http://www.recalls.gov/  or http://www.safercar.gov/

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Susie Albin-Najera
Susie Albin-Najera is the creator and editor of The Mexico Report, an award winning travel blog showcasing news, deals and resources for the modern traveler. Najera is a writer, author, travel blogger, marketing and public relations specialist and producer. Najera serves on the host committee for Maestro Cares, founded by singer Marc Anthony and producer Henry Cardenas; and on the advisory board for Corazon de Vida, providing aid to children in Mexico. She is also the creator of 'The Real Heroes of Mexico' showcasing community heroes in Mexico and producer of Latino Thought Makers. Najera has been recognized by the Mexican Consulate and Mexico Tourism Board for fostering positive relations between countries and her dedication to showcasing Mexico as a premiere destination. She can be reached at info@themexicoreport.com

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