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Teamwork offers one special little girl a safe ride.

Meet Collette.  She is nine years old and she has a host of medical issues including cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, and scoliosis. The left side of Collette’s body is shorter than the right, so she also has retarded muscle tone and leans to her left side. Collette’s mother is single and works hard to provide a good home and professional nursing care for her daughter. After Collette outgrew her original car seat, her mom did the best she knew and put Collette in a high back booster seat, locking the seat belt retractor to try to keep her from slipping out of the belt. Collette would fall to the side any time her mother turned a sharp corner. On long trips, Collette’s mom had to pull over every hour to check Collette and straighten her back up. She tried putting towels around Collette to brace her up and keep her upright, but nothing worked. Trips to Shands Hospital in Gainesville to change Collette’s shunt were incredibly difficult, uncomfortable, and unsafe.

A couple of weeks ago, a new co-worker of Collette’s mom, Sissy, saw her car seat arrangement and referred her to the UF/IFAS Santa Rosa County Extension Service. Sissy agreed to attend a car seat checkpoint at the Santa Rosa County Health Department on Thursday, September 13. At that checkpoint, nationally certified Child Passenger Safety technicians were able to correctly fit Collette into a DIONO Radian car seat. Although the harness straps are just a bit loose to allow for the curvature of Collette’s spine, she now sits comfortably and safely on every car trip. Long trips to Shands Hospital won’t be a dreaded ordeal for Sissy and Collette any more.

Kudos to Sissy for never giving up on making life safer and easier for her little girl. Thank you to Simone Luedtke at Children’s Home Society, who referred Sissy; to the Santa Rosa County Health Department, who held the car seat check; to the Florida Occupant Protection Resource Center, who provided the DIONO Radian; to FDOT, who funded the Resource Center; and to Allana Pinkerton at DIONO, who made the seats available in Florida for an affordable price. Thanks also to the dedicated child passenger safety technicians in Northwest Florida. Through teamwork, we really can make a difference!

Permanent link to this article: http://santarosa.ifas.ufl.edu/blog/2012/09/18/teamwork-offers-one-special-little-girl-a-safe-ride/