Churches Get Seatbelt Grant


Monday, February 19th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Two Memphis churches have been awarded a $12,000 federal grant to promote seatbelt use among blacks in a pilot project that could lead to similar grants on a national scale.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is providing the money to the Congress of National Black Churches, which has 65,000 members nationwide and is administering the pilot grant.

It will be used for seven months of educational programs at New Sardis Baptist Church and Greenwood CME Church, said the Rev. L. LaSimba Gray Jr., pastor of New Sardis.

``It's a demonstration project that will implement activities among the (church) youth, parents and day care personnel designed to increase seatbelt usage among African-Americans,'' Gray said.

The money will be used for workshops for parents and children, coloring contests for children and meetings for teen-agers where staff members discuss the importance of buckling up, The Commercial Appeal reported Monday.

A recent study conducted by Meharry Medical College in Nashville showed black children are 50 percent less likely to be buckled up than are white or Hispanic children, Gray said.

It also shows that 80 percent of black children have been found to be improperly restrained when observed at safety checkpoints manned by police in Memphis, Chicago, Washington and other cities.

``One of the objectives of the agreement is to develop a model, church-based workshop that CNBC members can use to promote proper installation and usage of child safety seats and seatbelts,'' said Ann Mitchell, a highway safety specialist with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an arm of the Transportation Department. The program could expand to other churches if the Memphis pilot project proves successful.

The Congress of National Black Churches is a 23-year-old nonprofit organization based in Washington that represents eight denominations of black churches across the country. It has led drives to improve health care, better economic conditions and provide theological training.

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On the Net:

Congress of National Black Churches: http://www.cnbc.org/