Community support sought in New London for Safe Kids initiative

New London - It takes a village to ensure that a child is raised in a safe and loving environment.

And perhaps no other agency in the region is more acutely aware of that than Chid & Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut.

On Thursday at the B.P. Learned Mission, the agency invited leaders of the community to a breakfast, asking them to become partners in its latest initiative, Safe Kids New London County.

Child & Family was approached by officials at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in August to take over the program because the hospital could no longer support it due to budget constraints.

"We realized that it was a huge undertaking," said Lisa Otto, associate director at Child & Family.

"We recognized our families, especially our low-income families, benefited from Safe Kids. We are very much at the beginning, gaining expertise and funding sources. To bring it back to what it was, we really do need partners."

Safe Kids is hosting its first official meeting on April 10. The public is invited to attend.

The mission of Safe Kids is to protect children ages 18 and under from motor vehicle crashes, pedestrian injuries, bicycle collisions, drowning, fire and scald burns, poisoning, choking, and firearm accidents through a multifaceted approach of increasing public awareness, providing education and advocating for environmental and public policy changes.

Meg McCabe, coordinator of Safe Kids Connecticut, said the leading cause of death for children ages 1 through 14 is unintentional injuries.

"Injuries are not a randomly created event," said McCabe. "Many childhood injuries can be prevented."

Aimee Bliven and Joshua Posey will serve as co-coordinators for Safe Kids New London County.

Bliven said she, along with Julie O'Keefe, underwent certification to become car seat technicians. She hopes to bring back free car seat clinics, a popular program when it was held at L+M.

Bliven said numerous grant applications have been submitted, which will hopefully fund the purchase of new car seats that would be given to those in need of a safe one.

Jennifer Messina, director of youth services, said the agency gets eight to 10 calls a day asking about car safety clinics. Messina said she has to refer them to other organizations like American Ambulance.

i.larraneta@theday.com

Upcoming Safe Kids events

• Safe Kids' first official meeting: 9 a.m. April 10 at B.P. Learned Mission, 40 Shaw St., New London

• Bike rodeo: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 7 at B.P. Learned Mission. There will be helmet fitting and skills stations.

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