Safe Kids Summit County wins award for water safety program  at international gathering of safety professionals

(Akron, Ohio) – Akron coalition recognized for work to protect kids from preventable injuries, the number one cause of death to children in the U.S.

Safe Kids Summit County and its local coordinator, Heather Trnka, injury prevention coalition supervisor at Akron Children’s Hospital, were honored July 18 at the Safe Kids Worldwide International Childhood Injury Prevention Convention (PrevCon) for its outstanding work in preventing childhood injuries.

The Akron area children’s safety coalition received the Impact Award for Original Program for its Safety Around Water program, which aims to help children ages 5 to 14 to be comfortable around water and have the basic skills to remain safe if they fall into a pool. It was developed in collaboration with Akron Children’s Hospital, the Akron Area YMCA, Akron Public Schools, the City of Akron, and the Akron Community Foundation in 2017 to address the significant number of local children experiencing drownings and near-drownings.

Since its inception in 2017 and by the end of this year more than 2,500 Akron area children will have completed the program, Safe Kids Summit County officials said.

The award was announced as more than 500 safety professionals from the U.S. and countries around the world gathered at the three-day convention in Washington, D.C., to collaborate on efforts to enhance the safety of children on the road, at home, and at play.

Trnka, a Brunswick resident, leads Safe Kids Summit County, which is supported by Akron Children’s Hospital. She and Safe Kids Summit County were selected for the honor from more than 400 coalitions across the U.S. and from 30 countries around the world.

“Heather Trnka is a dynamic force, a recognized leader within Safe Kids, and an inspiration to our entire network,” said Torine Creppy, president of Safe Kids Worldwide. “Too many kids do not have a chance to reach their full potential because of an injury that is preventable. Heather’s passion and commitment are making a difference in her community and beyond as we work together to reach more families, prevent more injuries and save more lives.”

Trnka has been employed at Akron Children’s Hospital in the External Affairs department for more than five years. She serves as the hospital’s system-wide injury prevention coalition supervisor as well as the Safe Kids Summit County coalition coordinator and the state director of Safe Kids Ohio. She has a master’s degree in strategic leadership from the University of Charleston and is a certified paramedic and emergency medical technician – intermediate (EMT-P and EMS-I).

“Seeing our Safety Around Water program getting international attention from Safe Kids Worldwide is incredible,” Trnka said. “We hope this attention can inspire other coalitions and communities to develop meaningful programs like this one to meet the challenges in their communities.”

“Heather and her team work tirelessly to keep kids in the Akron area safe,” said Grace Wakulchik, president and CEO of Akron Children’s Hospital. “When they see a need, they respond, as they did with the successful Safety Around Water program. We’re proud to be part of their efforts to educate and inform children and their families.”

Preventable injuries are the number one cause of death for children in the United States. Throughout the world, almost 1 million children die of an injury each year, and almost every one of these tragedies is preventable.

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