Harbor-UCLA Medical Center started its Injury Free Kids project in its Los Angeles' South Bay community in 1996 with a focus on two ethnically homogenous communities—a Samoan community in Carson and a Latino community in Wilmington.
Data from the Los Angeles Department of Health Services showed that motor vehicle-related injuries were the leading cause of unintentional death in both communities. Therefore, the project focused initially on education to promote child passenger safety and bicycle safety.
It used focus groups in each community to design Injury Free Kids interventions that were culturally sensitive.
The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) national program Injury Free Coalition for Kids: Dissemination of a Model Injury Prevention Program for Children and Adolescents.
The Samoan Program started slowly, but has expanded and now involves a coalition of Samoan chiefs, religious leaders, and politicians. In 1999, some 200 Samoan youth attended the first community forum on gang, family, and other violence.
The Latino program has activities addressing seat belts in cars, bicycle safety, and playground development.
- Project staff spearheaded nationwide focus groups for adolescents that included input from program sites in Los Angeles, Kansas City and Chicago.
- For long-term evaluation, staff established an injury registry at Harbor UCLA to track injury-related visits, not just hospitalizations.
- Staff helped assemble coalitions to promote injury prevention that included both government agencies and private and nonprofit groups.