Sunday, June 12, 2011

Children's Hospitals Promoting Safe Play

Children's hospitals around the country are promoting safe play, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. A report published in January titled "Injury Prevention on Playgrounds, at Home and in the Neighborhood" notes endeavors by hospitals in several states.

The foundation's Injury Free Coalition for Kids is the spearhead for raising awareness about safe play at children's hospitals and within the broader community.

"More than half of the Injury Free coalitions built playgrounds, typically with plastic or rubber materials, a soft ground covering and other features to prevent injuries," the report states. "The purpose -- and impact -- of the playground projects went beyond just providing safe places for children to play. ... By bringing neighborhood residents into the planning and construction process, the Injury Free teams were also building community."

The Comer's Children Hospital at the University of Chicago built two playgrounds with help from area residents. "Both projects contributed to an increased effort by community residents and the local police to keep children in the neighborhood safe from violence," states the report. "St. Louis Children's Hospital reported that while a few of its playgrounds experienced vandalism, most neighborhoods were committed to maintaining their new play spaces."

The Injury Free Coalition has also encouraged in-home safety and violence prevention for young people through research and community initiatives.

Cases in point include a coalition-sponsored annual program in Worcester, Mass. in conjunction with the UMASS Memorial Children's Medical Center and local law enforcement that collects guns in exchange for Wal-Mart gift certificates, according to the report. "In Miami, members of the Injury Free team helped develop a local violent injury surveillance system ... and used the data to assess patterns and trends in violent deaths and to report findings to the public and policy-makers."

The Indianapolis Injury Free program at Riley Children's Hospital collaborated with the local fire department to hand out more than 17,000 smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.