Recognizing that seat belts save lives, Governor Lincoln Chafee this afternoon joined the Honorable Anastasia P. Williams and Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) Director Michael P. Lewis to present three community-based organizations with seat belt education grants during a State Room ceremony at the State House.
"We all know that buckling up is one of the easiest ways to stay safe in a crash. Through these joint efforts we're hoping to share this safety message with even more Rhode Islanders," said Governor Chafee.
Since the 2011 passage of the primary seat belt law, sponsored by Representative Williams and Senator John J. Tassoni, Jr., RIDOT made a commitment to focus on seat belt education and community outreach. Upon receipt of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) incentive funds, RIDOT and the Black and Latino Caucus Community Partnership (BLCCP) began planning an aggressive effort to solicit participation in the State's Seat Belt Education Campaign. Over the next four years, RIDOT will award $1 million to community-based groups who will help share the seat belt safety message.
"Saving lives is one of the things we should all be interested in doing," said Representative Williams, Chairwoman of the BLCCP. "Thanks to this process, we can now reach low income, minority, and non-English speaking citizens with the vital message of seat belt safety."
As part of the State's Seat Belt Education Campaign, organizations submitted grant applications that were reviewed and evaluated by the BLCCP and RIDOT. The first three grant recipients, the Providence Community Library, Woonsocket's Connecting for Children and Families, and the Socio-Economic Development Center for Southeast Asians, were selected based upon the community based programming they developed to help promote seat belt safety.
"RIDOT is pleased to participate in this partnership to encourage the development of culturally and linguistically appropriate seat belt messaging. Increasing seat belt usage within those communities we may not have been able to reach before is critical to the success of our overall objective of saving lives," said RIDOT Director Lewis.
The Providence Community Library (PCL) is receiving $32,160.47. Serving the entire City of Providence, the PCL has nine neighborhood libraries throughout the capital city. Most libraries are situated in minority-rich neighborhoods, and the clientele and program attendees reflect the neighborhood population. During the course of any given year, the PCL libraries present more than 4,000 programs with more than 50,000 attendees.
The PCL plans to have a multi-faceted approach, using a variety of programming ideas to share the seat belt safety message, including: a bookmark design contest, a comic book writing class, a hip hop and poetry class, child passenger safety trainings, Black storyteller events, and several other activities.
Woonsocket's Connecting for Children and Families (CCF) is receiving $38,000. A membership organization established in 1995, CCF is comprised of families, community leaders, service providers, and business representatives working together to make a difference on child and family issues.
Their approach will target Woonsocket, North Smithfield, Lincoln, Cumberland, Glocester and Foster. They plan to reach 2,400 Rhode Islanders with critical safety information through 120 KEYS (Keeping Every Youth Safe) presentations. These presentations focus on safe driving and the importance of seat belt use.
The Socio-Economic Development Center for Southeast Asians (SEDC) will be receiving $40,000. A statewide organization dedicated to the promotion and integration of Southeast Asian culture, the SEDC helps build dignity and develop personal and social responsibility.
The group plans to create and disseminate a culturally appropriate informational toolkit in the four main languages spoken in the Southeast Asian communities (Cambodian, Laotian, Hmong and Vietnamese) and conduct trainings based upon these toolkits. Focusing on the two cities with the highest concentration of Southeast Asian residents, Providence and Woonsocket, they will also share their seat belt safety message at major cultural events, like the Southeast Asians New Year events that range from Spring through Fall.
RIDOT is assisting several other community organizations with finalizing additional grant applications for awards under $5,000. In addition, RIDOT and the BLCCP continue to solicit further interest in the campaign from organizations statewide to broaden the outreach effort. RIDOT's goal is also to expand the geographic reach of the campaign during the second, third and fourth grant years.
Contact: Heidi Gudmundson (401) 222-1362, Ext. 4009