November 22, 2002 - Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Baltimore
IFCK Injury Free Baltimore will initially focus on East Baltimore, where a comprehensive analysis of Johns Hopkins pediatric trauma service records shows children are at increased risk of hospitalization due to motor vehicle injuries, pedestrian and bicycle accidents, falls, burns, and assaults.
Prevention projects, which will be determined by parents and neighbors in the community, could include construction of safe playgrounds and play areas, car seat inspection and education, distribution of bicycle helmets, and smoke detector installations, programs already underway at other IFCK Injury Free sites.
"We often see kids playing in alleys or vacant lots that are full of broken glass or other hazards because they are closer to the child's home than the local park or playground, which sometimes is more than eight blocks away," said Glenn Ross, president of the McElderry Park Community Association and an IFCK Injury Free Baltimore partner. "Kids can very easily become injured or sick while playing in these types of places. We hope to work together with the Coalition to increase the awareness of this dangerous trend and provide our children with safe and convenient places to play."
According to Charles Paidas, M.D., director of pediatric trauma at the Children's Center and the principal investigator for IFCK Injury Free Baltimore, injury is the number one cause of hospitalization and death of children and young adults in the United States.
"This program is about training parents to become leaders and teachers in the community, and we hope to demonstrate to parents that their vigilant supervision, proper use of safety devices, and advocacy for a safe environment can effectively protect their child from harm," he said. "This is a golden opportunity for the Children's Center Pediatric Trauma Service to not only treat injury, but to help prevent it from occurring. It's a privilege to be able to give something back to the community."
The first step in the program is to organize community focus groups comprised of parents and other caregivers to gather suggestions for safety projects. Approximately ten parents from four designated community sites will then be recruited each year to participate in Parent Safety Leadership Groups (PSLG). The groups will be trained by Hopkins safety experts in the causes of injury, effective prevention strategies and safety improvements, and advocacy techniques. Each PSLG will choose, plan and conduct an intervention and safety program. IFCK Injury Free Baltimore will provide parents with stipends and other assistance, such as childcare, to encourage PSLG member participation.
"I support this effort to bring awareness and injury prevention training to the East Baltimore community, where we too often see incidences of childhood injury on our streets and in our playgrounds," said State Senator Nathaniel McFadden of Baltimore. "This program demonstrates to parents in the community that they have real power to make changes to improve their children's safety. I believe the resources and training that this program provides will empower parents to do whatever they can to protect their children from the threat of injury."
Partnering with the Children's Center in IFCK The Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Baltimore are the Johns Hopkins Hospital Office of Community Health, Baltimore City Fire Department, Baltimore City Health Department, Tench Tilghman Elementary School in East Baltimore, Amazing Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, McElderry Park Community Association, and Success by 6(r) Historic East Baltimore Collaborative. The Hopkins program will join the national IFCK Injury Free Coalition for Kids organization, which includes independent sites at more than two dozen hospitals across the country.
The IFCK Coalition was founded began with a program that was founded in at the Harlem Hospital division of Columbia University in New York in 1981 by pediatric surgeon Barbara Barlow, M.D., who formed a coalition of pediatricians, surgeons, city and state agencies, local foundations, community organizations and parents. Since 1988, major injuries requiring hospital admission have decreased by 55 percent for children living in Harlem. Many of the Harlem programs provide opportunities for children to participate in supervised cultural and sporting activities, including dance lessons, art workshops, and baseball and soccer leagues. Funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the IFCK the Coalition currently has 27 sites in 24 cities across the country.