Navajo chapter of ThinkFirst receives award for “Buckle Up Navajo Newborns” initiative
Eve’s Fund for Native American Health Initiatives
The Navajo Nation chapter of an international injury prevention organization has received the 2020 Outstanding Community Involvement Award for its recently launched “Buckle Up Navajo Newborns” initiative. ThinkFirst Navajo, sponsored by Eve’s Fund for Native American Health Initiatives, received the honor from ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing brain, spinal cord, and other traumatic injuries through education, research, and advocacy. Through its annual awards program, ThinkFirst recognizes individuals and chapters demonstrating excellence by delivering outstanding prevention programs in support of its mission. The ThinkFirst Navajo award was one of seven announced at a “virtual” ceremony, streamed via the ThinkFirst Foundation’s Facebook page on April 24. The awards presentation may also be viewed on ThinkFirst.org. The virtual awards presentation was necessitated by current COVID-19 restrictions on group gatherings.
ThinkFirst has 171 chapters throughout the United States and around the world. Among these, ThinkFirst Navajo is the only one that operates exclusively on a federally recognized American Indian/Alaska Native reservation, an area in which injury rates are three times the national average. ThinkFirst Navajo launched its Buckle Up Navajo Newborns initiative in 2019 in response to published statistics reflecting the fact that the Navajo Nation has one of the highest child mortality rates in the country, with the leading cause of preventable deaths arising from motor vehicle crashes.
“We are extremely pleased to recognize ThinkFirst Navajo for their strong focus on saving lives and preventing injuries to infants and young children living on or near the Navajo Nation throughout 2019,” said Kim Spayer, Executive Director of the national office for the ThinkFirst Foundation. “Their “Buckle Up Navajo Newborns program was created in response to the need among a segment of the population that was highly vulnerable. Prior to this initiative, studies showed that only 27% - 30 % of Navajo children were secured properly in car seats or booster seats during motor vehicle rides. ThinkFirst Navajo leaders are pressing toward the goal of ultimately ensuring every Navajo newborn is buckled up safely in a high-quality car seat.”
Last July, ThinkFirst Navajo donated fifty high quality car seats to the Navajo Department of Transportation’s (NDOT) Highway Safety Division and has ordered fifty more to be delivered and distributed to families in need when COVID-19 related restrictions are lifted. Under the leadership of Norman Bowman, program manager of the NDOT’s Highway Safety Division, nationally certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians will provide educational resources and hands-on instruction to parents and grandparents receiving the car seats to ensure that their children are properly restrained at all times. The department will also conduct follow-up research to measure the success of car seat use over time.
“ThinkFirst Navajo was selected to receive the Outstanding Community Involvement Award because of its tireless community outreach, collaboration, creative partnerships and fund-raising efforts. Key to the success of this initiative, ThinkFirst Navajo expanded its partnership network and strengthened existing collaborations with governmental entities on the Navajo Nation. This new injury prevention initiative involved many partners and stakeholders, all committed to the safety and well-being of young Navajo children,” said Awards Committee Chair, Barbara DiGirolamo, M.Ed., Injury Prevention Coordinator at Boston Children’s Hospital.
“This award is such positive news for ThinkFirst Navajo and all of our partners across the Navajo Nation at this challenging time,” said Barbara Crowell Roy, Eve’s Fund president. “So many deaths and injuries of Navajo infants and young children can be prevented through the proper and consistent use of car seats. We are committed to raising enough funds so that every Navajo newborn can be buckled up. The seats we are purchasing will work for newborns up to children weighing sixty-five pounds, so parents with limited resources and access won’t have to purchase new seats as their child grows.” ThinkFirst Navajo is proud of our new and expanding “Buckle Up Navajo Newborns” initiative and will remain dedicated to keeping Navajo newborns safe on the road,” Roy added.
The mission of ThinkFirst is to prevent brain, spinal cord and other traumatic injuries through education, research and advocacy. Founded by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, the ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation, based in the Chicago suburb of Naperville, is an independent 501c3 charitable organization.
For more information on ThinkFirst visit www.thinkfirst.org.
About Eve’s Fund for Native American Health Initiatives
Eve’s Fund for Native American Health Initiatives is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization that promotes hope and wellness among young people across the Navajo Nation spanning the corners of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. The late Dr. Robert M. Crowell and Barbara Crowell Roy founded Eve’s Fund in 2005 in memory of their daughter, Eve Erin Crowell. Since that time, the organization has developed strong community partnerships and created prevention and education and scholarship programs impacting more than 60,000 Native children and young adults.
For more information, visit www.evesfund.org.