Buckle Up for Life is not just a partnership between an automotive manufacturing company and one of the world’s leading children’s hospitals. It is also a program that is bringing many of the leading children’s hospitals across the U.S. together. That’s how important the cause of child passenger safety is and why we are so grateful to have the opportunity to make the program better each year by adding new hospitals to our growing list of distinguished partners. Without these renowned local hospitals believing in this issue and the program’s effectiveness, we couldn’t make Buckle Up for Life a reality in our program expansion cities – a total of 11 to date! Also, these hospitals are the trusted authority on health issues in their cities and states and are best positioned to deliver the educational message. Lastly, our hospital partners are best equipped to understand the issues and needs of their specific communities. We rely on them to identify the best local partners they will use to share Buckle Up for Life.
When Cincinnati Children’s and Toyota created Buckle Up for Life in 2004, we knew that together we shared a wealth of knowledge about vehicle safety technologies and behaviors. But just as we felt we had things to teach communities, we found out we also had much to learn.
One incredibly valuable lesson we learned was the role of the church and church leaders in helping us deliver the most effective program. When we moved the program from the hospital into local churches, it was a game-changer. A captive audience that attends services weekly allowed us to deliver a portion of the education each week. The cumulative effect of these lessons resonated within the community. Just as importantly, the church leaders that become advocates of the Buckle Up for Life program are a trusted source of advice for the church community.
Our approach is designed to empower church leaders and members to make child- and adult-passenger safety a priority in their own communities, thereby reducing motor-vehicle injuries and deaths. Buckle Up for Life relies on these strong partnerships with faith leaders throughout the country. Their leadership and support continue to play a crucial role in the success of our work.
The Buckle Up for Life curriculum includes presentations for adults, teens and children. All participants learn why it’s important to wear a seat belt every time they ride in a car. Adults are also taught how to choose and install a car seat for their children, while teens learn about the dangers of distracted driving. Children benefit from a variety of interactive lessons that drive home messages about staying safe in motor vehicles.
At the end of the program, families that participated in the Buckle Up for Life activities are eligible to receive free car seats. During a car seat check for all participants, certified child passenger safety technicians help install car seats and ensure that children are riding safely.
In addition, we provide churches with informational posters and tips for promoting motor-vehicle safety.