Bulgaria is a leader in road accidents and deaths in Europe. The analysis of road accidents with children over the years shows that nearly 2/3 of the fatal accidents with children on the road are as passengers. According to data from the Ministry of Interior of Bulgaria, every year in car accidents an average of 20 children-passengers under the age of 14 lose their lives and another 600 are seriously injured. Child safety in cars is neglected by Bulgarian institutions and society. In our country car seats and seatbelts are still not recognized as important safety elements and are rather bought to avoid a penalty than to protect the health and lives of the children. Parents usually seek advice on the topic from friends or random members of online communities, which leads to reinforcement of the wrong behavioral pattern. We aim at making in-car child safety meaningful, understandable, and applicable in every family and by every member of our society. Our main target group is future and current parents of children up to 12 years old. The general public is our secondary target since we believe that in-car child safety is a collective responsibility of the entire society and not just the parents and thus it is important our messages to reach out to everyone. Equally important targets of our work are the institutions and organizations which are directly or indirectly related to the in-car child safety, incl. professionals such as medical staff, child care staff, etc. Those are our potential partners, supporters, and ambassadors of in-car child safety.
Who was/is your target audience?
Kids on Board Foundation
If you work together with external partners, list the most important partners and briefly describe their role.
No other partners/organizations were involved. However, we have built strong partnerships with various organizations in the field of road safety that support our cause. For example, the State Agency for Road Safety recognizes us as a unique and valuable partner in the efforts to raise awareness and improve the skills of parents to transport their children safely. This year we commemorated together the National Road Safety Day by conducting the first-of-a-kind training of parents on "How to safely transport your baby in the car" (incl. demonstrations, consultations, fit-check, etc.). We were invited to join the Specialists Talk social initiative of the largest parents' online forum in Bulgaria - BG-Mamma, where we share important information and provide free consultations (Q&As) on in-car child safety. Nevertheless, we have built strong and trustful relationships with distributors of safe car seats, influencers, and various parents' online communities/groups, who help us reach out to more parents.
Please describe the project activities you carried/are carrying out and the time period over which these were implemented.
The Kids on Board initiative started in September 2020. In this first year of implementation, our 2-people core team has been carrying out the following activities: 1. Developed and maintaining an online platform (www.kidsonboard.bg) providing information (articles and videos) on all topics related to in-car child safety. All articles and videos are copyrighted content and aim at answering frequently asked questions by stressing out the life-saving importance of the in-car child safety measures. So far, we have created and published 16 short videos and more than 20 articles. September 2020 ongoing. 2. Providing individual consultations on choosing, proper installation and usage of child car seats. Our team assists parents in understanding the principles of in-car child safety by providing information and practical support. We suggest car seats based on the information provided; we comment on the safety of car seats the parents have liked; we do a fit-check for every new car seat bought as a result of a consultation, but also for those who are not sure if they have installed or are using their seat properly; we meet parents face-to-face to help them overcome difficulties with the installation of their car seats, check if they put their baby/toddler properly in its seat, give advices on how to make trips with new-born babies easier. So far, we have provided more than 600 consultations and received feedback from over 60% of the consulted parents who confirm they have bought, installed, and use properly a safe car seat (according to the results from independent testing laboratories). September 2020 ongoing. 3. Providing information and answering questions on in-car child safety with the Specialists Talk initiative of the biggest online parents' forum in Bulgaria BG-Mamma. March 2021 ongoing. 4. Working with online media, TV, radio, influencers, celebrities on raising awareness among parents and the general public on the in-car child safety importance. September 2020 ongoing. 5. Conducting online live educational sessions in social media to provide information and answer questions on in-car child safety to parents and the general public. Total of 4 live events were conducted in the period of January-June 2021. 6. Conducted training of parents on in-car child safety, incl. learning-by-doing sessions where parents installed the car seats they brought into their own cars and harnessed their baby in the car seat under our supervision. The training was part of the National Day of Road Safety commemoration and was conducted by the invitation and in partnership with the State Agency on Road Safety. July 2021. 7. Conducting own survey on knowledge, behavior, and attitudes of parents towards in-car child safety. The study is annual and covers all 28 regions of Bulgaria. September-October, annually. 8. Offering on-site or online training and Q&A sessions on in-car child safety to businesses as part of their social packages for staff members. May 2021 ongoing. "
What has been the effect of the activities?
For exactly one year since the introduction of the Kids on Board initiative, we have managed to assist more than 600 parents through individual consultations; we have taken part in more than 300 online discussions of parents seeking advice in different peer groups; we have reached more than a million people speaking Bulgarian (locals and foreigners; living in the country and abroad) with our articles and videos; we have discussed in-car child safety's importance on national media on more than 10 occasions. The main result of our efforts is the fact that parents have become more aware of the importance of car seats and their proper installation and usage; we are quoted and referred to in literally every conversation related to child seats in online groups and communities, therefore we are able to step in and provide all the information needed, correct wrong opinions, bust myths, provide additional evidence, suggest solutions, etc.; we are granted trust and respect by parents, media and institutions, therefore we are able to reach more and more parents with our messages. According to feedback from parents and dealers of car seats, more parents tend to change their existing car seats with safer ones, incl. preference for usage of extended rear-facing car seats (as rear-facing is 5 times safer than forward-facing) until 4 or 6-7 years of age of the child. We have risen awareness of parents on the importance of car seat crash-testing results and the fact that not all seats on the market are equally safe. We have attracted the attention of car seat dealers who are now supporting our efforts by providing car seats for demonstrations and training, consulting us on different practical aspects of particular car seats, etc. Even though we are the only organization working specifically and exclusively on in-car child safety, there are a few others making effort in that field. We have identified and partnered up with them in order to ensure good collaboration and complementary activities for a bigger impact (e.g., the State Agency on Road Safety, Safety Driving Academy).
Please briefly explain why your initiative is a good example of improving road safety.
The topic of road safety is generally very complex and often difficult to understand and apply. When it comes to in-car child safety and its recognition by parents, the main problem is the lack of correct information and guidance. Thus, we have created an online platform containing articles and short educational and demonstrational videos to address that issue, raise awareness among parents and other members of our society, and improve knowledge and skills to understand and apply in-car child safety on a daily basis. By providing accessible, verified, complete and well-presented information on in-car child safety in Bulgarian, as well as an opportunity for a free consultation (on choosing, proper installation, and use of child car seats), we are finally giving the Bulgarian parents everything they need to make informed decisions on the in-car safety of their children. The fact that we, who founded the Kids on Board, are two mothers of toddlers helps us a lot to decide on the right channels, messages, and ways to provide this complex information to parents. We are aware of the main issues and concerns of parents, we know how and where they most often seek information, and we know how confusing this information can be. Kids on Board is not just a good local practice. It is unique for the region and even Europe since it is a parent-oriented and parent-driven initiative tailored exclusively to the needs of the target group, and thus â€“ having a great impact even with limited resources. We have a very simple and yet very successful approach that makes a big difference on a daily basis. With the set of services and information we provide, we manage to respond effectively to the needs of parents. By teaching them how to provide maximum safety for their children in the car, we not only build and improve their knowledge, but we also change the attitudes and behaviors of entire families and communities. Therefore, it is safe to say that with minimum investment we achieve a maximum of change.
How have you shared information about your project and its results?
Yes, visit links.