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Health board offers car-seat safety classes

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Clayton County residents, who are receiving financial assistance to cover their medical and nutritional costs, can now receive a car seat for their infants and toddlers from the Clayton County Board of Health.

The health board has received 98 car seats from the Georgia Department of Community Health's Division of Emergency Preparedness and Response, to give people as part of a car-seat education effort, Veronda Griffin, a spokesperson for the Clayton County Board of Health, said on Wednesday.

The seats will be distributed to participants in a series of classes the Board of Health is about to begin offering on the proper way to install a car seat, according to Griffin.

"We want to be able to provide parents with education on how to use car seats just to make sure that in case of an accident, the children are safe," Griffin said.

The Board of Health announced, on Tuesday, that it will offer its first class on April 6, from 9:45 a.m., to noon, at its Comprehensive Health Facility, which is located at 1117 Battle Creek Road, in Jonesboro. The cost to participate is $10 per person, and up to 10 people can sign up for the class. Participants will receive a car seat, Griffin said.

She added that to qualify for a car seat, though, a person must be a Clayton County resident and receive financial assistance, either through Medicaid or through the Georgia Department of Community Health's Women, Infants and Children nutrition program.

According to the Georgia Department of Community Health's web site, it takes 300 pounds of restraining force to keep a 10-pound baby safe in a car that is moving at 30 mph when it is involved in a crash. The statistics listed on the web site also state that the lives of 358 children were saved in 2007 because they were in car seats and booster seats.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's web site states that three out of four car seats are not properly installed.

The Clayton County Board of Health's classes will be offered on a monthly basis, Griffin said. She said the Board of Health has three certified child-passenger safety technicians on staff. She added that the technicians are certified by Safe Kids Worldwide, which is described as "a global network of organizations with a mission of preventing unintentional childhood injury" on its web site.

"We have not set future dates [beyond April] for the classes yet," Griffin said. "We're going to see what the response is, and then see what dates and times work best for people."

The car seats were provided to the Clayton County Board of Health through the 2010 Car Seat Mini-Grant Program, which is part of the Injury Prevention Program, overseen by the Georgia Department of Community Health's Division of Emergency Preparedness and Response, according to Griffin.

Although it is overseen by the Georgia Department of Community Health, the mini-grant program is funded by the Governor's Office of Highway Safety, Griffin added.

In December, the Georgia Department of Community Health announced it had received $450,000 from the Governor's Office of Highway Safety to fund the Child Occupant Safety Program, which includes the mini-grant program.

"It's our responsibility to keep our children safe," said Dr. Alpha Fowler Bryan, the district health director for Clayton County. "The car seat mini-grant is a great opportunity to help reduce the number of young lives lost in motor-vehicle crashes."

For more information on the car-seat education classes available from the Clayton County Board of Health, call (678) 610-7199.