SRPMIC Receives Child Passenger Safety Team of the Year Award 


Over the past two years, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community’s Child Passenger Safety Team has kept busy coming up with new ways to continue its services during the pandemic. The team promotes child passenger safety by providing parents and caregivers with up-to-date car seats, one-on-one training, and car-seat checks to make sure the seats are properly installed, safe and secure. 

In recognition of this work, the team was named Child Passenger Safety Team of the Year by the National Child Passenger Safety Board in March. 

“I was informed in January that we won the award,” said Monte Yazzie, injury prevention coordinator for the SRPMIC Department of Health and Human Services’ Injury Prevention Program. “We’re pretty excited about it. For me personally, the joy of doing [this] kind of work is the people—the new parents, the guardians and those grandparents who are doing the very best that they can … for their little ones. And it’s also [about] those technicians and partners who dedicate their hours to provide education and instruction to parents. All those people show a commitment to … child passenger safety [and saving lives].” 

Early Childhood Education Center Health and Nutrition Coordinator Melinda Hansen, Injury Prevention Coordinator Monte Yazzie, Environmental Health Tech Anthony Phillips and Early Childhood Education Center Family Advocate Martha Villalobos receive the 2022 National Passenger Safety Team of the Year Award. Photos courtesy of Health and Human Services

After starting with only two technicians, the Child Passenger Safety Team now has 17 technicians who come from many different SRPMIC departments, including the Salt River police and fire departments, Social Services and Salt River Schools. This team of people has worked keep Community children safe and their families informed of child passenger safety throughout the pandemic by providing one-on-one consultations, as well as demonstrations, virtual trainings and car-seat checks at the school lunch pickups.

The Child Passenger Safety Program is a product of the Injury Prevention Program with Health and Human Services. The Injury Prevention Program operates under a grant from the Indian Health Service that brings intervention into the Community focusing on child passenger safety, fall prevention for seniors, preventing traumatic brain injury, and opioid abuse prevention. 

“Back in 2016, when I started, [the Community] had a car-seat distribution program, but they didn’t really have a full-fledged program dedicated to [child passenger safety]. So, the Injury Prevention Program started that up, and part of what we did was build partnerships within the Community,” said Yazzie. “We started working with the schools, Social Services, Community health educators and nurses, the Family Advocacy Center and different places where parents and newborns are receiving services.” 

Five years, the team received another grant to continue this work in the Community. 

“We will continue to pursue the work of child passenger safety and getting people to buy into that idea of safety. … [T]here’s no reason why we can’t take a few seconds to make sure we buckle in a child correctly and make sure that we’re traveling safely,” said Yazzie.

The team will be hosting a car-seat check near the end of the school year in May, and during the summer they will be releasing a number of safety videos. For more information about child passenger safety, call the Injury Prevention Program at (480) 362-7542.

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