Kate Carr knows a thing or two about health and safety. She’s held top positions at Malaria No More, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and worked in the Office of Public Engagement in the White House during the Clinton administration. But what she didn’t know before accepting her role as president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide was that everyday injuries could pose an even bigger threat than the diseases she was working to prevent.
“Despite my global health work and being a mom [of three], I didn’t know that preventable injuries were the leading cause of death for kids,” she says. “That spoke to me. How could I use my experience to make sure kids don’t have to die?”
Safe Kids Worldwide, a nonprofit dedicated to preventing injuries in children, has a far-reaching mission: to reduce the global number of accidents and deaths related to preventable incidents, including everything from burns to car crashes.
The organization gets its points across by gathering evidence-based data reviewed by a team of experts, then distributes it in ways families can actually understand. Case in point: Safe Kids Day, an annual event in April held in communities across the US to encourage injury prevention through family-friendly games and activities.
“We’ve really amped up our work in global road safety. We’re the certifying organization for the car seat technician program, which only used to teach in English. We now have materials available in multiple languages and partners on every continent except Antarctica. I knew we could help other countries drive down fatalities without reinventing the wheel.”
Safety by the numbers
“About 75 percent of car seats are installed incorrectly. We sponsor 8,000 car seat checkups every year, with the help of more than 400 partner coalitions and 200 hospitals. When we do these checks, it’s an educational experience; we don’t just fix the problem, we show parents why and how. We’ve heard so many stories about families who walked away from car accidents unharmed because of what they learned.”
The power of data
“You can’t scold people into changing their behavior; you can’t go into someone’s home and regulate something like co-sleeping. But you can provide statistics: Almost 1,000 babies under age one die each year, largely due to co-sleeping.”
Every family counts
“One of our biggest challenges is figuring out how to reach families that need help the most. Yes, we try to reach everybody, but the number of injuries that happen in disadvantaged communities warrants special attention. We’re focusing our efforts on kids with special needs too, like improving the messaging on materials geared toward kids with autism.”