Monday, February 26, 2024

Blue dinosaur enlisted in MidCoast pedestrian safety push

MidCoast Council has joined forces with the Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation and the University of NSW for an innovative new pilot program which evaluates child pedestrian safety around local childcare centres.

Seven Local Government Areas in NSW, Queensland and Victoria are taking part, including the MidCoast Local Government Area.

The official launch of the pilot program in the MidCoast recently took place at Faith Family Early Learning Centre in Taree.

“We’re very supportive of the Foundation’s community education campaigns,” said MidCoast Mayor, Claire Pontin.

“It’s great news that preschools in our region are taking part in this important initiative.”

Preschools involved in the research program have received books, posters, parent education flyers and signage.

The program encourages teachers to talk to children about road safety, especially the importance of holding their parent or carer’s hand on arriving and departing preschool and everywhere cars are.

The preschools will also provide information to parents through flyers and newsletters and will ask them to complete surveys to support the research.

The Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation. It was established in 2014 following the death of local resident, Michelle McLaughlin’s four-year-old son, Tom McLaughlin (pictured) due to a tragic pedestrian-motor vehicle crash whilst on a family holiday.

“Land transport crashes are the leading cause of death for Australian children aged 1 to 14,” Mrs McLaughlin said.

“Over the last decade from 2013 to January 2023, 590 children aged 0-16 years were involved in a road fatality crash, with 22% of these fatalities occurring when the child was a pedestrian or a cyclist. On average, one child per week dies in Australia this way, and it’s entirely preventable.

“It is especially important for young children to hold their carer’s hand when around busy roads. My family knows first-hand the heartbreaking reality of losing a child to road trauma,” she said.

“Over the past nine years, the Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation has partnered with 68 LGAs in four Australian states with its signage and media campaigns. This pilot program is very important, and we thank MidCoast Council for being so proactive.”

A key aim of the Foundation is to educate parents about the perceptual limitations of children around roadways. Those aged 1-10 years are especially vulnerable, and depend on parents to keep them safe from road trauma events.

Mrs McLaughlin encourages parents to be cautious when on holiday or in new environments, particularly around areas of high pedestrian and vehicular activity. Road crashes take only a microsecond to happen, she says.

For more information about the Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation visit www.littlebluedinosaur.org.

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