Child Safety Group Celebrates 30 Years

By JOANNE ANDERSON, The Mississippi Press | September 19, 2013

n 1983, a group of concerned citizens led by Pascagoula, Miss., pediatrician Dr. Clifford Seyler decided to do what they could to reduce injuries, sometimes fatal, suffered each year by children.

The result was an organization called CANDY, also known as Citizens Against Needless Death in Youth.

On Friday, Seyler will return from his current home in Tennessee to join in the 30th anniversary of the organization and serve as guest speaker during the celebration at the Pascagoula Public Library.

Seyler was inspired to start CANDY because he said in 1983 he was treating too many children suffering from avoidable accidents and injury.

Dana Wood and students from Beach Elementary School will provide the musical entertainment at the anniversary celebration. Wood is a former patient of Seyler’s and now serves as a professional librarian in the Jackson-George Regional Library System.

During the past three decades, CANDY has solidified its place in the community as a child safety advocate organization teaching awareness and prevention on all child safety issues, such as buckling up, bicycle helmet use and poison prevention.

Its flagship program has been the loan and rental of car seats at nominal costs. All eight branches of the Jackson-George Regional Library System serve as distribution centers for the seats.

“We’ve come a long way in getting people to use car seats,” said CANDY board member Bethany Carlisle who is also Youth Services Coordinator for JGRLS. “But we still have a ways to go.”

Carlisle said she participated in a recent spot check of car seats at a pre-school and found some with no car seats, car seats in place but not used, or seats installed improperly.

CANDY keeps the library system, its partner for most of its existence, supplied with appropriate size car seats for all ages. All that is required is a $15 refundable deposit and a $15 rental fee for one year.

Parents have the option of updating to seats when new technology merits or larger seats as their child grows.

“Rentals may also be made on a short term basis for a dollar a day. For example, a grandparent may need a seat for a short visit from a grandchild,” said CANDY President Carol Hewlett, who is also JGRLS director.

Hewlett said CANDY volunteers also visit new mothers in the Singing River Health System and George County Hospital to see if a seat is needed and instruct in the proper use of the seat.

“CANDY emphasizes safety year-round and sponsors programs to educate on bicycling, poison prevention, severe weather, water safety, back to school, anti-bullying, Internet use, and travel, to name a few,” Hewlett said.

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