Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Child-safety project launched

The Federal Express (FedEx), the Safe Kids Philippines and the Philippine College of Surgeons on Saturday launched “Safe Kids Walk This Way,” a pedestrian-safety program designed to prevent accidental injuries and deaths to children in the Philippines.

Walk This Way, a global project, brings together parents, teachers, employee volunteers and safety advocates to teach students safe pedestrian behavior, encourage motorists’ awareness of child-pedestrian safety and provide long-term environmental improvements to make neigh­borhoods and school zones safe for pedestrians.

City officials led by Vice Mayor Rolen Paulino lauded the joint efforts of FedEx and PCS in their campaign to help keep Filipino children safe.

Beng-Wee Tan, managing director of FedEx Asia Pacific Hub, said the company fully supports the program. “Our employee volunteers work with Safe Kids to teach pedestrian safety to school children and help establish safer, more pedestrian-friendly communities. To date, we have about a hundred employee volunteers in Manila and Subic who devote their time and effort to this cause.

“Twenty-five public schools will benefit from the project in Olongapo. I am proud to say that our employee volunteers have enthusiastically taken it upon themselves to conduct walk­a­bility checks for each school in the four school districts in the city,” Tan said.

“Children in Asia Pacific are especially vulnerable to pedestrian injuries, because up to 85 percent walk to and from school. For a large proportion of that number, and especially in the Philippines, the streets are the children’s playground as well,” Tan said.

Dr. Raffy Cosunji, a trauma surgeon at the Philippine General Hospital and Safe Kids’ director for Asia operations, said Olongapo City is the third beneficiary of the program in the country. It has been launched in the cities of Pasay and Parañaque.

President Arroyo has declared the third week of June as “National Safe Kids Week,” an important step in educating the public on the mission of Safe Kids Philippines and Safe Kids Worldwide.

Cosunji explained that about 36 percent, or 30,000 Filipino children, are below the age of 14. About 7,000 Filipino children died every year due to unintentional injuries. The leading causes of unintentional-injury deaths are drowning, road-traffic injury, falls, poisoning and burns.

In April Safe Kids released new data that predicts more than 35,000 Filipino children will die or get injured in road accidents this year.

Cosunji said many of the injuries can be prevented if families and communities take simple steps to protect their children. The volunteers will continue to participate in ongoing school training to educate children on road safety throughout the year and will work with Safe Kids organizations in setting up community pedestrian-safety task forces which will work to identify problems and push for improvements in their community.
--Malou Dungog


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