Qualified residents of Marion County received free car seats after attending a class in Tazewell, taught by Brenda Maddox, Fort Valley State University's Marion County Extension agent on Feb. 21.
Maddox, a certified child passenger safety technician (CPST), said the classes are needed because motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of injuries and deaths for children under age 14.
The Car Seat Safety class provides parents and caregivers car and booster seats after they successfully complete a two-hour training on proper instillation and use. Seats are provided through a grant offered by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.
Maddox said she has to apply for the grant annually. Each year, the grant funds up to 72 car seats at a probable cost of $9,600. During 2018, Maddox said that despite a late start, more than 50 people received car seats through the safety program.
The FVSU Extension agent said the most common mistake people make is placing the harness clip in the wrong position or failing to properly secure the car seat with seat belts. “A lot of people have them (car seats) now, but they are still misusing them. I’m passionate about making sure people get the right information so they can prevent injuries and save lives,” Maddox said.
Alejandrina Herrera, a native of Buena Vista was ecstatic to receive her free car seat after completing the class.
“I’m thankful that I got a car seat for my child,” Herrera said. Herrera attended the class because she said she needed a new car seat for her 3-year-old son, Thomas. If purchased at a retail store, the seat would have cost her $100.00.
Herrera said by attending the class, she learned that a child must always be in the correct car seat, and that can vary with the size and age of the child. She also said she will tell friends and neighbors about the car seat safety program and recommend they attend the next class.
“Just in case they don’t have a car seat, or think they don’t know if the kid is in the right car seat, it will be a good idea to come and learn a little bit about it,” Herrera said.
Maddox said classes are offered monthly at various locations throughout Marion County. Participants must meet financial qualifications in order to receive a free car seat.
To register for future classes, call Maddox at (229) 649-2625 or text “Car Seat” to (478) 235-8695.