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Center for Childhood Safety ready to help at new location

By Ben Rodgers

ASHWAUBENON – The Center for Childhood Safety (CCS) has a new home that allows for limitless opportunities to keep kids safe.

The new location opened in July at 2827 Ramada Way in Ashwaubenon and provides a multitude of resources for families.

“When I started working for this nonprofit, we were in the industrial park on the east side attached to the St. Vincent Hospital laundry department,” said Kimberly Hess, CCS executive director. “We were not to be found anywhere and off the beaten path, to suddenly being where we are at six years later is awesome.”

CCS was started nearly three decades ago by pediatrician Dr. Gordy Haugan.

“We were founded in 1991 based upon the premise that injury is the No. 1 killer of children under 14,” Hess said. “We were founded by a pediatrician who felt he could help more kids starting this nonprofit than he could lecturing in his office.”

CCS has four main programs currently.

The first, which is now a reality due to the new building, is Safety Town.

Safety Town is a one-week summer camp for children ages 4-9 who learn safety procedures through classroom instruction and pedalling around a miniature town, complete with buildings, stop signs and a stop light.

Hess said the kids spend a week learning about traffic safety, bus safety, playground safety, kitchen safety and much more.

“You cannot keep your eye on your child 24/7,” she said. “They’re going to go out and make their own choices and you have to hope we’ve helped them make the right ones.”

One of the larger programs CCS has is for child passenger safety, or proper car seat installation.

Hess said eight out of 10 car seats inspected by CCS are installed incorrectly.

“We see about 700 families a year, and we install their car seats,” Hess said. “We do events offsite as well, but people make appointments, they come in and we have a three-bay garage and we install their car seats year-round.”

The number is so high because there is no universal child car seat. Different manufacturers make different models for different cars.

“I think it’s eye-opening for a lot of them about things they’ve never considered,” she said. “Also, it’s a relief for those families who have tried to install their car seats and couldn’t figure it out.”

CCS’s longest running program is Winners Wear Helmets and it has equipped more than 15,000 kids with bicycle helmets.

“That was actually how we were founded,” Hess said. “Dr. Haugen always had a patient and was telling him ‘You’ve got to wear your helmet, you’ve got to wear your helmet.’ Well, he went out, and was playing bike tag and hit a car. He had significant damage and never finished high school, so Dr. Haugen started this nonprofit.”

The Safe Sleep program focuses on giving babies a safe environment to sleep in.

Hess said the main points are: no co-sleeping, no adult beds, sleeping on the back and on a firm surface.

“Our Safe Sleep Community Collaborative ensures that newborns have a place to sleep safely through the distribution of pack-n-plays that are accompanied by one-on-one safety education,” she said. “The Safe Sleep program ensures parents aren’t unintentionally harming their children simply due to lack of access of safe sleep infant products.”

If an effort to reach more families, most of the services offered at CCS are completely free.

“I rely on grants and donations in order to provide these services,” Hess said. “The only program we charge for is our summer safety camp. Otherwise, all of our programs we are able to get funding for and we provide for free for the community.”

The new location on Ramada Way also opens up programing options for CCS.

On Thursday, Aug. 22, officials from various agencies across Northeast Wisconsin packed into a classroom for a three-day class on proper car seat installation.

Hess wants to allow school districts to bring children into Safety Town on field trips.

She also wants to start holding classes for babysitters and teen drivers.

“It’s really endless possibilities now that we actually have a space people can come to,” she said.

Right now, Hess said CCS needs more help because the nonprofit organization is still $1 million short in its capital campaign, and help can come in a variety of ways.

“We mainly need financial donations, but we also need volunteers, I would also say advocates, people to share our message because we’ve been around since 1991 and very few people have heard of us,” she said.

To make a donation or learn more about CCS, visit centerforchildhoodsafety.org.

CCS launches 911 app

CCS has has announced the app, Kids Practice 911 Dialer has been launched and is now available on Google Play.

One of the challenges of being a parent is arming your kids with the skills to handle an emergency.

Most experts suggest teaching kids how to call 911 around the age of four.

The app provides education on placing 911 phone calls using animated lessons and a realistic phone dialer.

Emergency situations are stressful and chaotic.

Although the hope is children never have to make a call to 911, Kids Practice 911 Dialer is a realistic phone simulator that operates like a real phone.

Children make the call and are prompted to provide their name, address and phone number and are given directions on how to proceed.

Dialing 911 from a cell phone is different than a landline.

Cell service providers are not able to pinpoint exact location, so ensuring children know their address is important.
The app can be used by teachers, police officers and parents.

For general childhood safety information, call CCS at 920-272-0110.

CCS aims to create a culture of childhood safety in Northeast Wisconsin by providing education and resources to children and adults.

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