January 21, 2001

The death rate from motor vehicle crashes for Hispanic children between the ages of 5 and 12 is 72 percent higher than the rate for non-Hispanic children. A new campaign is being launched this week to curb the high traffic fatality rate among young Latinos.

Determined to change this tragic situation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in partnership with the National Latino Children's Institute and Nationwide Insurance, is launching a national bilingual initiative to inform Hispanic families, child care providers and the Spanish-speaking community about child passenger safety. Tested in 12 cities with diverse Latino populations, the initiative, Corazon de mi vida, has proven that Latinos will respond to messages and buckle up their children when the message speaks to their hearts.

The kickoff in Miami-Dade County will took place--appropriately, on Valentine's Day at the Day Care Center of the Cuban-American National Council, 1223 S.W. Fourth Street in Little Havana. The event will provide statistics documenting rates of traffic death and injury among Hispanics, as well as testimonials and endorsements, a preview of the Corazon de mi vida bilingual awareness campaign and demonstrations of the proper use of child passenger seats.

Corazon de mi vida was developed by the National Latino Children's Institute (NLCI), a nonprofit organization that creates a voice for young Latinos.

"The words `corazon de mi vida' mean `you are the center of my life.' This phrase captures the essence of child passenger safety for Latinos. We believe this message is so powerful that it will change the behaviors of Latinos who may not know how urgent it is for their children to ride in the backseat, buckled up in a safety seat," said Rebeca Barrera, President of NLCI.

Because the program uses culturally appropriate materials and strategies, it is easy for Latino families to become involved in keeping their children safe, Barrera added.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among Hispanics under the age of 24 and the third-leading cause of death for all Hispanics, surpassed only by heart disease and cancer, according to statistics compiled by NHTSA.

With the assistance of Nationwide Insurance, which will donate dozens of child passenger safety seats to families with children at the Cuban-American National Council's day care center, NLCI will be in Miami to share valuable information that will help ensure child passenger safety. Nationwide insurance has been a strong supporter of NHTSA's efforts nationally to safeguard the lives of Latino children through the proper use of child passenger safety seats and donated $310,000 last year toward both the Corazon de mi vida initiative and the purchase of child passenger safety seats.

Maria Elena Salinas, Univision Network News anchor; Dra. Isabel Gomez-Bassols, host of Dra. Isabel at Radio Unica Network; and Beatriz Canales, anchor of Miami's Fox affiliate will attend the Valentine's Day kickoff to support the campaign.

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