Laura has been with us since 2012, and has recently decided to move on from KID. A devoted Program Director, she has done much to support and drive the mission of KID, reaching out to communities and giving countless informative presentations. As she looks to move forward with new opportunities and experiences, she reflects on her time with us.
What drew you to KID?
When I initially looked into the organization, it was not what I thought it would be about. Like many people, I assumed that KID dealt with at- risk students, abused youth, or something along those lines. As I learned what KID actually did, I was surprised that an organization like KID needed to exist. Sadly, the more I learned about our nation’s flawed product safety system, the more I realize how necessary an organization like KID was, and still is. I stayed at KID for nearly four years because it was such an alarming thought for me to imagine what the world would be like without KID.
How did your work at KID further the organization’s mission?
As a result of my time at KID, I hope that I have been able to connect more individuals, families, professional caregivers, and grandparents to our cause. The most evident way to do that is to expand programming so that the organization connects with more parents and caregivers every year. Yet, such expansion has a cost and many non-profits struggle to raise the necessary funds. In light of that, there is also a lot of value in expanding your volunteer program. Doing so helps to create new advocates for your cause and as well as other initiatives (in KID’s case, our Young Professionals Board). In the past, KID sometimes struggled to connect with this particular demographic (25- 35 year olds). Now, we have a team of 16 young professionals in this age range actively fundraising and advocating for KID. Thus, I believe I was able to expand KID’s mission by connecting to more people and organizations in an innovative, cost- effective way.
What did you enjoy the most about your time at KID?
As a former teacher, I most enjoyed traveling to different conferences, schools, and community organizations to present our safety workshop. While this presentation takes a lot of time and effort, it is an invaluable component of KID’s work, as it allows many people to understand how product safety affects their daily lives. Without a personal touch, product safety can be overwhelming to many parents and caregivers. Thus, it is my hope that the 100+ presentations I completed during my time at KID allowed many more parents and caregivers to understand the hazards that might be present in their own homes and facilities, as well as to feel empowered with KID’s tools and resources to create environments safer for children.
Given your involvement with parents and caregivers over the years, what household hazards were they often the most surprised to learn about at a KID training?
Generally, I think most people were just surprised that there was not always a safety standard in place for some of the products they had purchased. When we go to a store, many of us assume the products we buy meet a safety standard and are tested by neutral third parties. Sadly, this is not always the case. This can be especially confusing for parents and caregivers who purchase a product that claims to have been “tested for safety,” but then the level of testing is misleading.
Additionally, many parents and caregivers were surprised that supervision, while important, is not always the answer when it comes to product safety. While parents and caregivers can be very talented at spotting potential hazards ahead of time, product safety is not always so obvious. A product, such as a crib bumper pad, can look completely harmless and even safe, but then research can reveal that the product is not only unnecessary but actually dangerous.
Finally, many parents and caregivers assume they will never be impacted by product safety—likely as a way for them to protect themselves emotionally from this harsh possibility. In light of this, at every presentation, I told participants that product safety impacts us all- no matter race, income, education level, or age. I noted that there is not a single parent in KID’s Family Voices (a section of KID’s website dedicated to families that suffered injury or death as a result of unsafe products) that thought their child would be the victim of an unsafe product. Sadly, they were wrong. This is a big motivator behind KID’s work: the idea that changing people’s awareness level of children’s product safety can in turn help to prevent another family from being permanently affected by an unsafe children’s product.
Where do you hope to see KID grow over the following years?
I would really like to see KID focus on strategic partnerships to help amplify their message and their voice. It is hard for a single voice to be heard given the overload of information presented to each of us via the media on a daily basis. I believe there is a lot to be gained from mutually beneficial partnerships, making them a potential area of growth for KID. Additionally, I would love to see KID approach the idea of children’s product safety in some new and innovative ways. The TEST program is a great example of this, and I wonder if something equally innovative could be developed around other issues of product safety.
If you could share some final insights about children’s product safety to parents and caregivers, what would they be?
I truly wish every product you ever wished to buy- new or used, in a boutique or in a department store or even online, was tested and met a strong safety standard that put the safety of children first. I wish, if there was something unsafe with the product, that you would be able to identify it immediately before ever using it with a child and that the company that made the product would be responsive and proactive to every parent and caregiver that purchased the product. Sadly, this is not the case. There is some good news though: KID works every day to make this vision of the world a more attainable reality. So, I would say: know that KID is an organization on your side, working for you to make life not only a little easier for parents and caregivers, but also a lot safer.