12/17/04 — Coalition formed to ensure safety of children

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Coalition formed to ensure safety of children

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 17, 2004 1:57 PM

A new group hopes to take the lead in teaching children to be safer and to prevent injuries.

Wayne County Partnership for Children is forming a Safe Kids Coalition, with hopes to become affiliated with the national organization.

The group held its second organizational meeting this week. Among the agencies supporting the effort are Social Services, the Health Department, police and highway patrol, and the medical community.

David Poythress, monitoring director for the partnership, is serving as coordinator of the coalition. Officers are expected to be elected at the next meeting.

Poythress said the five areas being targeted are motor vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian safety, choking and strangulation, poisoning, drowning, and burns and scalds.

Don Magoon, executive director of the partnership, said the subjects can be changed to meet the changing needs. The first order of business, he said, will be child safety in cars, particularly with pending changes to the booster-seat law.

On Jan. 1, North Carolina will expand its child passenger safety measures. The law will require children to be in a booster seat or other child passenger restraint system until they either reach 8 years of age or 80 pounds.

Poythress said his office has received numerous calls from people needing booster seats.

"A lot of people pick up car seats from tag sales and such and don't know where they have been," Magoon said, "or they are passed down from family members."

Those seats may not be safe, he said. The coalition hopes to support events that help ensure the booster seats are safe and secure.

Poythress said there are also plans to distribute information about the booster seat requirements in preschool and elementary school classrooms throughout the county.

As the coalition becomes more active, he said, the hope is to be more visible in the community and serve as a resource for parents and other organizations.