Four out of five child car seats are installed incorrectly. Penny Shaw is here to help parents get it right.
Shaw is the coordinator of Safe Kids Spartanburg, which is supported by Spartanburg Medical Center. Safe Kids Spartanburg works to prevent unintentional childhood injury.
“Losing one child is one too many, and we don't want any parent to have to endure the loss of a child,” Shaw said. “We're calling on everyone to come together, to raise awareness and to get involved. Saving lives is a decision we can all make every day.”
Shaw and other trained car seat technicians are available to review installation dos-and-don’ts with parents upon request. With support from car seat manufacturer Evenflo, Shaw offers new car seats to qualifying parents at a discounted rate. Safe Kids Spartanburg also provides new car seats for those who come to the emergency center following an accident that has left a car seat damaged.
On the last Thursday of each month, Shaw and other technicians at the hospital are available to check car seats.
“All parents have to do is call and make an appointment. They can drive up into the front circle off Wood Street, and we will meet them,” she said.
The installation of car seats is just one way that Shaw and Safe Kids Spartanburg works to help make life safer for local children. Other focus areas include safe sleep for infants, bicycle and pedestrian safety, fire prevention, water safety, and home safety.
Working to keep children safe
Safe Kids Spartanburg is part of the Safe Kids Worldwide network. There are 12 affiliates in South Carolina that build Safe Kids coalitions within their communities. Working in Spartanburg, Union and Cherokee counties, Safe Kids Spartanburg collaborates with school districts and organizations such as Partners for Active Living, Middle Tyger Community Center and the Nurse Family Partnership, in addition to Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System.
Shaw also works with local fire and police departments to support car seat safety, and fire and burn prevention. Car seat inspection stations are located at the Westview, Boiling Springs, North Spartanburg, and Reidville fire departments.
Support from the Foundation
The Spartanburg Regional Foundation has played a key role, too. The Foundation has awarded Safe Kids Spartanburg grants in the past decade.
In 2016, a grant of $22,825 provided equipment and training for a partnership between Safe Kids Spartanburg and Spartanburg Regional Pediatric Rehabilitation. Staff members underwent training in the installation of car seats for children with special health needs.
In 2013 a $10,000 grant funded the purchase of Safety Town on Wheels – an interactive display of signs and lights like those encountered by motorists and pedestrians in the real world. Volunteers guide children through a course to help them learn the rules of traffic safety for pedestrians and cyclists.
Shaw has taken Safety Town to schools, shopping centers and other public locations. It is featured each spring at the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System Criterium held downtown in Spartanburg. Before the professional cycling event gets underway, children have an opportunity to ride their bikes and learn about safety.
“It’s a great program – the children really enjoy it, and they gain important information for navigating streets and sidewalks safely,” Shaw said. “I’m very grateful to Spartanburg Regional Foundation for the grant that funded Safety Town.”
The Spartanburg Regional Foundation also manages a fund that supports Safe Kids Spartanburg that has primarily been used for staff education. Shaw hopes the fund will grow to support all Safe Kids Spartanburg programming and provide equipment such as car seats, cribs and bicycle helmets to more families in need.
Safe Kids Worldwide was founded in 1988. The organization works with an extensive network of more than 400 coalitions in the United States and partners in more than 30 countries to reduce traffic injuries, drownings, falls, burns, poisonings and more. The organization has helped reduce the child death rate due to unintended injury by 60 percent.
Shaw and Spartanburg Regional have been recognized for leadership within the Safe Kids network. As the lead organization, Spartanburg Regional has the largest child passenger safety technician program among health care systems in South Carolina. Shaw has given presentations about these efforts at the Safe Kids Worldwide conference.
She enjoys talking with groups here at home, too – and she feels like her work makes a difference.
“I enjoy interacting with parents and helping them do all they can to keep children in our community safe,” she said.