Wednesday, July 18, 2001

Kids given crash course in home, car safety issues

Interactive displays let children 'visualize' care

By David Eck
Enquirer Contributor

        NORWOOD — Tiny faces winced as the toy car rolled down a wooden ramp and crashed, cracking the “unbuckled” egg that was riding inside.

        The message was swift and dramatic: Not wearing seat belts can hurt you.

[photo] Norwood Patrolman Jay Fitzpatrick, (right) talks to 6-year-old Zoe Barger of Norwood about bike safety.
(Michael Snyder photos)
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        In a previous crash, the egg was strapped in the car with a simulated seat belt and remained undamaged.

        The egg demonstration was one of about a dozen at a safety fair Tuesday at Norwood's Victory Park. The fair, conducted by BMF Pediatric Care, was one of four planned for this summer.

        In another activity, children and adults had to look at a picture of a house and identify the almost two dozen safety problems shown in the various rooms.

        Topics included safety on the school bus and with guns. Health issues also were included, and the Cincinnati Zoo Babies were there.

        Most of the exhibits encouraged children's participation.

[photo] Gabi Tompkins (left) and Shelby Kohler, both 4, survey damage to an egg that wasn't “buckled up.”
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        “The main goal is we want the kids to have interactive activities,” said Mary Kay Martin-Heldman, social service director for BMF. “It actually visualizes to children the importance of safety.”

        About 125 people, mostly children, attended.

        Kristi DeCaprio of West Chester brought her children, Johnny, 5, and Samantha, 3, to the event.

        “I just think that our kids are never too young to learn,” she said. “In all aspects (of safety), they need to learn all of that.”

        She liked the interactive concept.

        “You can tell them and tell them, but for them to actually do it ... they really learn,” Ms. DeCaprio said. “I think that's what the safety fair is all about. It's been great.”

    Upcoming BMF safety fairs, all running 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.:

    • Thursday at Whitewater Valley Elementary School, 10800 Campbell Road in Harrison

    • July 26 at the Corryville Recreation Center, 2823 Eden Ave.

    • July 31 at the Lincoln Recreation Center, 1027 Linn St.

        For the almost 20 medical students who helped set up the fair and operate the booths, the day was a chance to experience the people side of medicine.

        “We're going to be doctors so we need to be able to relate to different cultures,” said Kara Beiter, who is getting ready to begin her second year of medical school at the University of Cincinnati. “That's only going to increase our ability to care for them. I want to get into pediatrics anyway, so any time I can spend with children, that's more experience I'm going to have.”

        BMF, a nonprofit prenatal and pediatric practice, operates five centers in medically “underserved” areas of Cincinnati, said Barbara Shappie, social service coordinator. The organization served 8,000 children and more than 200 prenatal patients last year.

        The organization dates to 1909, when local pediatricians started distributing pure milk to infants of lower income families, Ms. Shappie said.

        BMF started doing the safety fairs about 10 years ago, and more than 600 children attended them last year. The organization hopes to have 750 kids come to this year's events.

        “This is our one big event for safety,” Ms. Shappie said. “This is our community outreach.”


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