UWindsor announces delivery of child safety seats to Walpole Island Bkejwanong First Nation families
The University of Windsor has announced that the first twenty child safety seats have been received by families courtesy of an innovative new collaborative research initiative between the University of Windsor and Walpole Island First Nation.
The program, part of the First Nations Children’s Safety Project, is aimed at reducing the risk of injury and death of Aboriginal children. The project, funded by AUTO21, is looking at finding community generated ways to reduce the risk of personal injuries resulting from vehicle collisions, has established a new trust fund whose goal is to ensure that every child living on a reserve community in Canada is eventually provided with a Clek child booster seat.
“I want you to feel like this is only the beginning,” UWindsor Social Work professor Brent Angell stated to the Walpole Island research partners at a recent meeting when the first shipment of child booster seats were delivered to the community for distribution. “I can’t make any promises, but I’m hopeful that the trust fund will grow to the point where everyone who needs one gets one.”
The child booster seats easily snap into place using the vehicle’s factory installed seatbelt-like latch connectors, which anchor them in a way that makes them part of the car’s infrastructure for improved safety. While they retail for about $70, Angell has an agreement with the manufacturer to provide them to First Nations Communities for half that price.
“When you think about it, $35 is a pretty small investment to make to protect a child,” he said.
According to Angell, vehicle injuries occur at a rate of between four and 10 times higher in First Nations communities than in the rest of the country, so dedicating resources to prevent injuries creates an excellent “social return on investment” considering the millions of dollars that go to treating and rehabilitating vehicle accident victims. This is especially true when considering the costs associated with caring for someone who has suffered a traumatic brain injury during a collision.
The research project is a partnership between the University of Windsor, Western University, Ryerson University, the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT), and the University of Victoria, which is focused on working with First Nation, Metis, and Inuit communities from across Canada in identifying vehicular injury issues of importance to them and support them in finding and implementing innovative solutions.
“Each community will come up with its own ideas of what’s important to them,” said Angell. “What’s important on Walpole Island might not be the same priority in another First Nation community”.