New Coalition Focuses on Reducing Injuries to Seattle’s Kids

October 15, 2002 - Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Seattle

Broken bones, scrapes, burns and the bruises of childhood may be dismissed as kids being kids, but the doctors and nurses who treat unintentional injuries have come to a different conclusion. When children live in a safe environment, are given alternatives to gang violence, follow street safety when walking, and wear helmets when biking, they have many fewer injuries and fewer visits to the hospital emergency department.

The Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Seattle is a new hospital-community partnership focused on reducing childhood injury in neighborhoods throughout the city. Based at the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, the Coalition is a partnership between Harborview Medical Center, Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center, and Public Health-Seattle & King County, and the community.

With sites in 15 U.S. cities, the Injury Free Coalition for Kids is one of the nation’s most effective and fastest growing injury-prevention programs. Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the coalition is comprised of hospital-based, community-oriented programs focusing on research, education and advocacy.

“The Coalition will work closely with other local organizations committed to childhood injury prevention,” says Dr. Brian Johnston, who directs the Seattle program. “Our goal is to make the community safer through collaborations that respect the diversity among families we serve and build on the strengths we see in our neighborhoods.”

Johnston is chief of pediatrics at Harborview and a University of Washington (UW) assistant professor of pediatrics. Dr. Linda Quan, chief of emergency medicine at Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center and a UW professor of pediatrics, is the program’s co-director.

The Coalition’s goals are to: § Identify and analyze injury problems at the neighborhood level; § Foster the creation of local coalitions to address these problems; § Develop and evaluate programs supported by the local coalitions.

The Coalition will begin its efforts in the city’s Central Area, where children have been found to be at increased risk of requiring hospitalization due to unintentional injuries. The Coalition will examine data related to injury hospitalizations to identify specific types of injuries and the circumstances in which they occur to best target prevention efforts. The Coalition will work with the Central Area’s strong community organizations, then expand into other neighborhoods as it develops.

Initial community outreach has been well received by a broad array of organizations, including Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic, King County EMS, Seattle Fire Department, Safeco Insurance, Seattle Police Department, Northwest Burn Foundation, Boys and Girls Clubs, Seattle Public Schools, Urban League of Metro Seattle, Central Area Motivation Program, Seattle Department of Design, Construction and Land Use and Department of Health Services, Rental Housing Association, Catholic Community Services, First AME Church, Country Doctor Community Health Centers, and the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

The Injury Free Coalition for Kids began in New York City in 1981 when Dr. Barbara Barlow, chief of pediatric surgery at Harlem Hospital, established an injury prevention program that became the model for the national coalition. Her ideas on effective approaches to injury prevention led to development of the Model for Injury Prevention, which forms the basis of all Injury Free Coalition for Kids programs.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, based in Princeton, N.J., is the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care. It concentrates its grant-making in four goal areas: to assure that all Americans have access to basic health care at reasonable cost; to improve care and support for people with chronic health conditions; to promote healthy communities and lifestyles; and to reduce the personal, social and economic harm caused by substance abuse – tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs.


Larry Zalin, Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center
Phone: 206.521.1531

Georgia Taylor, Children’s Hospital & Regional Medical Center
Phone: 206.528.5207

James Apa, Public Health-Seattle & King County
Phone: 206.205.5442