On June 23, Akron Children’s Hospital, in collaboration with the International Institute, held a portable crib and car seat distribution event at the Village of San Tomasso, a 50-unit family housing development for refugee resettlement in the North Hill section of Akron.
According to Heather Wuensch, director of community benefit, advocacy and outreach, the hospital’s external affairs’ injury prevention team offers these types of events monthly, with an average of 25 car seat events annually.
“Events like these are especially important for refugee communities because they often don’t have access to safety resources or items like car seats, cribettes or bike helmets,” she said. “In some cultures co-sleeping is a frequent practice, so we take time to educate families about injury prevention, safe practices and U.S. laws regarding child safety.”
At the San Tomasso event, which was promoted via flyers posted on the property and through community case managers and interpreters, the hospital provided 21 portable cribs and 27 car seats to families who pre-registered.
“We make it a priority to meet families in their neighborhoods,” Heather said. “When events are within walking distance from a family’s home it eliminates transportation barriers. We also provide interpreters, so families are educated in their language.”
The hospital relies on financial support from external partners to support injury prevention programs as well as community agencies to help with referrals, scheduling, promotion and logistics.
“Financial donations and grants allow us to provide safety equipment for families in need with some items purchased by the hospital,” Heather said.
Significant support for these efforts comes from The Goodyear Foundation, County of Summit Department of Jobs and Family Services, Ohio Department of Health Ohio Buckles Buckeyes, and the Ohio Department of Health Cribs for Kids grants.
Last year, the hospital’s injury prevention team distributed more than 1,600 car seats and approximately 700 cribettes to income-eligible families via community-based events and curbside appointments. They also supplied over 2,000 bike helmets to children at safety towns, community events and departments within the hospital.
In addition to community events, Akron Children’s provides brand new car seats at a discounted price to income-eligible families. Education is provided to caregivers about how to properly use the seat and install it into a vehicle. For more information or to register for the car seat distribution program, call 330-543-8942.