"Spot the Tot" new safety program for the New Year...

Even though we are beginning to gain daylight in Alaska for the next few months we'll be getting up before the sun rises and coming home in the darkness after sun set. A perfect time to roll out a new safety program called "Spot the Tot!" A partnership between the City of Soldotna and the Peninsula Safe Kids, Spot the Tot is designed to increase public awareness of little children who may not be visible from your automobile. "In the new year you'll be seeing signage in our parks and hearing ads on the radio and in the papers to remind everyone to be aware of little people that you may not see from your vehicle as well as teaching the little ones to stay clear of vehicles when they are at our parks or in driveways. We are encouraging parents to work with their young folks about a safe place to go when they see a vehicle start to move and drivers to circle their vehicle before getting in and driving away," explained Soldotna Mayor Peter Micciche.

According to the mayor the program began due to the numerous incidents across the country and in Alaska of toddlers involved in accidents while in their own drive-ways or at playgrounds and parks. Jane Fellman of Peninsula Safe Kids is excited about the new program and in cooperation with the Brad Nelson of Central Emergency Services taking the effort to teens who will shortly become the next generation of motor vehicle operators on our Alaskan highways, "It's called 'Countdown 2 Drive' and is designed for young teens 12 to 15 year olds and parents to take together. This web-based program will encourage discussion and negotiation of rules, rewards and consequences. Families will create an agreement/contract that establishes trust for teen drivers and peace of mind for parents. We have scheduled the next Countdown2 Drive workshop for January with Soldotna Community Schools for Wednesday, January 25th from 6 pm-8 pm at Soldotna Middle school and there is no fee for the class," said Fellman.

According to Fellman in 2011 Peninsula Safe Kids checked over 500 car seats throughout the Central Peninsula area and distributed over 280 car seats to the public, "That amounted to over 700 hours of community involvement by our agency partners and volunteers, but each one of those seats that we check in vehicles and help to make the proper adjustments means a child being safer in their vehicle and that's what we are all about," said Fellman. Safe Kids Kenai Peninsula Coalition's mission is to prevent the number one killer of children - unintentional injury. The Coalition works to educate adults and children, provide safety devices to families in need, and pass and strengthen laws to empower families and their communities to protect children 14 and under. Kenai Peninsula Safe Kids is sponsored by Central Peninsula Hospital to find out more or to pre-register for the Countdown 2 Drive program January 25th, call 714-4539 or by e-mail at safekids@cpgh.org .