October 8, 1999

Spanish Puppet Show Reaches Out to the Latino Community

Children playing with matches, lighters, and other fire sources start about 150,000 fires per year in the United States, resulting in hundreds of injuries and deaths to these youngsters.

In 1997, 50% of all children admitted to the burn center were Latino. Despite that, Latino's make up approximately 23 percent of the country's population.

In an effort to reduce the high numbers of burn among Spanish speaking children, the Burn Institute has joined forces with Pacific Bell to present its highly successful puppet show in Spanish to kindergarten through third graders. Children learn not to play with matches, to stay away from hot liquids, and to "Stop, Drop and Roll," if they should catch on fire. Scald burns are the leading cause of burn injury among young children.

"One of our agency's primary goals is fire and burn prevention and if we do not offer our strong educational programs in Spanish, we are only doing half of our job," said James Floros, Executive Director for the Burn Institute. "Thanks to Pacific Bell's partnership, we can now more effectively reach Latinos and reduce the high numbers of preventable burn injuries."

"Children are surrounded by things that can burn them," said Melody Vela, Community Outreach Specialist for the Burn Institute. This puppet show is designed to deliver important fire and burn prevention information to youngsters. Students are encouraged to recognize potential fire hazards and take responsibility for their own safety.

Melody takes her 30-minute Spanish puppet show to Spanish speaking school children throughout San Diego County and Imperial counties, reaching thousands of students each year. She also teaches a class for fourth through eighth graders about how to stop fires and burns. In addition, she also conducts juvenile firesetter sessions in Spanish. The Burn Institute provides free brochures and other materials in Spanish to schools, community groups, and any interested residents.

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