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An open letter to Children's Memorial Hospital
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Children's Memorial Foundation
2300 Children's Memorial Plaza, No. 4
Chicago, Illinois 60614-3394
Phone: 773.880.4237
Fax: 773.880.3304
E-mail: foundation@childrensmemorial.org

Re: Chicago Auto Show, First Look for Charity

To whom it may concern:

We are writing in regards to your organization's participation in the First Look for Charity event at the Chicago Auto Show. Children's Memorial Hospital and the Children's Memorial Foundation have a long history of helping children, and certainly the money raised at this event will be to their benefit. However, we think that you are doing a disservice to the children of Chicago, indeed of the entire world, by associating yourself with an event that promotes their number one killer.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's 2001 report on Traffic Safety and Children (http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pdf/nrd-30/NCSA/TSF2001/2001children.pdf), "Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children of every age from 4 to 14 years old" in the United States. The report goes on to say, "In the United States, an average of 6 children 0-14 years old were killed and 732 were injured every day in motor vehicle crashes during 2001."

The automobile industry says that the cars they sell at the Auto Show are safe, yet their most popular models are the most dangerous for children. According to the nonprofit consumer advocacy organization Public Citizen, "a child riding in an SUV is twice as likely to die in a crash as a child riding in a minivan." (http://www.citizen.org/autosafety/booster_seat/childrn_suv/)

And automobile crashes aren't the only way that cars threaten the health and safety of our children. From the increasing prevalence of child obesity and diseases like diabetes, to smog-induced asthma and bronchitis, children pay a disproportionate price for our nation's addiction to automobiles (See the World Health Organization report at http://www.who.int/inf-pr-1998/en/pr98-57.html.) The number of automobile-related child fatalities would be even higher if it weren't for the fact that fewer kids are walking and riding bikes to school than ever, according to the 2001 Department of Transportation National Household Travel Survey (http://nhts.ornl.gov/2001/).

Children's Memorial saves the lives of many children every year, a good portion of whom are injured in automobile crashes. Yet despite the best efforts of modern medicine, hundreds of children are killed and injured by cars every single day in this country, and many more around the world. And it's not just children who are dying: overall, over 40,000 Americans are killed by cars every year (http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/), and many more are injured. Many of these injuries and fatalities could be avoided completely, if we as a nation worked to reduce our love affair with, and our dependence upon, the automobile. Events like the Auto Show, which promotes and even glorifies driving, indirectly contribute to thousands of auto-related fatalities every year.

Children's Memorial should take the lead in making the safety of our children a top priority. However, you are sending the wrong message by participating in the Auto Show. There are plenty of charity events which raise money without promoting automobile usage and the inevitable deaths of thousands of children. We urge you to reconsider your involvement with this event in the future.

Thank you,
The Auto Show SHUTDOWN Association


 
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