AUBURN – Teachers and staff at the Child Health Center’s Auburn Developmental Preschool received training in bicycle helmet fitting and child safety seats installation recently.

Head teacher Jennifer Plourde said, “It is important that we ensure the safety of our children, not only in the classroom but outside and on field trips. We have a wonderful riding path in our outdoor area and some tricycles that the parents donated to the school last year.

“The children love using these trikes and we need to ensure their safety while they have fun. The parents also raised funds for us to purchase some child passenger seats, which allow us to go on field trips. Child safety seats save lives every day, but if we don’t know how to install them properly and fit the individual children in them that safety effect is compromised.”

The Child Health Center offers a child safety program for the public, called ProtectME. It focuses on bicycle safety and child passenger safety.

The teachers and teacher aides were shown how to fit the bicycle helmets to ensure that the children’s heads are protected against falls. The helmets, which had been used in the past, were inspected by ProtectME Coordinator Patricia Valeriani.

She pointed out that several needed to be discarded as they are unusable due to their age and a visible crack. She stated that manufacturers do not recommend that helmets more than five years old be used because the materials used in their manufacturing start to degrade.

“This doesn’t mean just throwing them in a dumpster. It means physically destroying the helmet so that no one can put it on their head,” Valeriani said. As part of the workshop the teachers took a hammer to two helmets and broke them into pieces before discarding them.

School staff was also shown the key points of child passenger safety seats and how the children should be harnessed to ensure their safety. Valeriani had previously shown the staff how to install the seats in the vans used for field trips and stated that she will return when the next trip is scheduled to ensure that the staff feels comfortable with proper installation. The staff will receive child safety training throughout the year.

The Child Health Center training is offered with the support of the United Way of Androscoggin County and Maine Safe Kids.

The center, a nonprofit organization, is located in Norway and Auburn with a branch in Rumford. For more information, call 782-5437 or 743-7035 or visit the Web at childhealthcenter.org.


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