Partlow said her son and his friends have starred in public safety commercials or attended events sponsored by the Safe Communities of North Central Dakota; his mom hopes that some of those lessons will sink in when they’re on the road.
Partlow received the Friend of Public Health Award Friday from the First District Health Unit for her many years of dedication to and support of child safety programs. Others were also recognized for their efforts.
She’s been coordinator of the Safe Communities program since 2000. During the past few years it has expanded, first to surrounding communities, then to Bottineau, and this year to Mountrail, Burke, Renville, McHenry, and Pierce counties, the same areas served by the First District Health Unit. The group, which receives grant funding from the North Dakota Department of Transportation, meets at 10:30 a.m. on the first Wednesday of every month except July at the Minot Municipal Auditorium. There are about 50 members, with 20 regular attendees.
Partlow said they really do believe in everything they are involved in and have put their hearts into it.
“I love feeling like I’m making a difference,” said Partlow. “”Every day is different and exciting.”
The program used to concentrate mainly on traffic safety, but has expanded to consider other areas that affect safety. They focus on traffic safety, underage drinking, drunk driving, bicycle safety, and other concerns. In the summer they might hold a “summer safety fair” for kids, focusing on the need to wear helmets and how to ride bicycles safely in traffic, how to stay safe in the swimming pool or around other common hazards in the summertime. They give away life jackets to some kids to encourage them to wear them while boating at the lake. They hold monthly car seat safety checks at which parents can check to make sure their infant car seats and booster seats for older children are correctly installed in their cars. Safe Communities is a sponsor of the law enforcement “Click it or Ticket” campaign, that emphasizes the importance of wearing seat belts. They get that message out to kids year-round through the “Adopt a Cop” program that takes the message into grade school classrooms. They’ve just started a lawn mower safety campaign. They use statistics from surveys such as the annual Youth Risk Survey and law enforcement statistics when developing signs and brochures that can also be used by other agencies developing their own programs.
The campaigns that Safe Communities is involved with seem endless. Partlow, who has worked in public relations in the past, said she tries to come up with new campaigns all the time. The people on the coalition are always trying to come up with creative new ideas and to “think outside the box” to influence people to draw attention to those campaigns.
She said the Safe Communities of North Central Dakota is known across the state as “the super coalition,” because they work with so many different agencies.
The Safe Communities group also has a number of different committees, each with a different focus, such as alcohol and tobacco use, impaired driving, occupant protection, fundraising, data, youth, and summer safety fair.
Partlow said she feels the group is promoting positive choices and responsible behavior. Her involvement is setting a good example for her own three kids, including the one who’s about to get his drivers license.
She said she’s thrilled to get the award from the First District Health Unit. She loves giving awards to the people and groups she works with and highlighting the things they’ve done.
“It’s just as exciting to be on the receiving end,” she said.
For more information about the group, check out the Web site at (www.safecommunities.org), e-mail Partlow at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 839-0488. Meetings of the group are open to the public and she said the coalition is always interested in hearing concerns or suggestions.
(Prairie Profile is a weekly feature profiling interesting people in our region. We welcome suggestions from our readers. Call Regional Editor Eloise Ogden at 857-1944 or Managing Editor Kent Olson at 857-1939. Either can be reached at 1-800-735-3229. You also can send e-mail suggestions to email@example.com.)
Kristen Partlow is coordinator of the Safe Communities of North Central Dakota. She just received a Friend of Public Health award for her efforts.