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2002 News from Mecklenburg County

June 7, 2002  

HEALTH DEPARTMENT AWARDED PRESTIGIOUS GRANT,
POSITION WILL FOCUS ON BIKE SAFETY AND INJURY PREVENTION 

Charlotte, NC – The Mecklenburg County Health Department has been awarded a grant position through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Public Health Service Training Program.   

Through this program, public health agencies from across the country compete for just 34 possible grant positions.  The two-year grant pays the salary of a CDC-trained public health educator to work on the local level. 

“This is a very prestigious public health scholarship and a great opportunity for this community,” says Jon Levin, health educator with the Mecklenburg County Health Department.   

Darrlyn Cornelius will begin her two-year placement with the Health Department on or before September 1, 2002.  During her tenure, she will be working on the development and implementation of an educational program promoting bicycle safety and injury prevention.  Cornelius has trained with the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and the National Center for Infectious Disease.  She has a masters in public health from Florida A&M University. 

“This is an important addition to local efforts to reduce unintentional injury-related deaths and non-fatal injuries here in Mecklenburg County,” says Theresa Cruz, project director with the Carolinas Center for Injury Prevention and Control, a collaborator on the grant. 

Mecklenburg County Health Director Peter Safir has made educating the public about bicycle safety one of the Department’s goals.  The Health Department was instrumental in seeing that a local bicycle helmet ordinance with stronger language than the state law was passed in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. State law mandates that those younger than 16 wear a helmet while riding a bike.  The local ordinance extends that requirement to scooters, skateboards and inline skates. 

In 1999, there were 58,891 injuries to people in Mecklenburg County, according to Mecklenburg Safe Communities Program.  The majority, 89%, was unintentional.  During that same time period, there were 3,521 assaults and homicides and 490 self-inflicted injuries.  On average, that means about one in every 12 people in Mecklenburg County was treated in an emergency room for an injury. 

There were 781 injuries to cyclists in 1999 in Mecklenburg County.  Just last week, a 10-year-old boy was hit by a car while riding his bike crossing Randolph Road.  Charlotte Fire Department credits the lack of life-threatening injuries to the fact that the boy was wearing a properly fitting bicycle helmet.



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