Malate Kids March for Safe New Year’s Eve Festivities

Less than a week before an eventful year comes to an end, a band of cheerful children today went out on the streets of Malate in the city of Manila to promote a kid-safe celebration of the New Year.

Members of the Children’s Ministry of the Our Lady of Remedies Parish wowed commuters and residents as they happily flaunted alternatives to hazardous firecrackers during the event dubbed as “Ligtas Salubong 2012.”

The annual collaboration between the Care for the Earth Ministry and the EcoWaste Coalition since 2008 showcased the use of creative noisemakers to welcome the New Year in a safe way, complementing the earnest efforts by the Department of Health and other agencies.

“New Year revelers should take their cue from these smart kids and refrain from buying and letting off firecrackers that could endanger the health and life of both users and non-users,” said Rev. Fr. John Leydon, the Parish Priest.

“With a little creativity, we can have a joyful celebration with our families and neighbors without causing toxic fumes and wastes and loud cries from children wounded in firecracker explosions,” he said.

For Aileen Lucero, Iwas PapuToxic Campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition, “the money saved by not blowing up firecrackers and fireworks can aid ongoing humanitarian efforts in places ravaged by storm Sendong.”

“We can avoid headline-grabbing carnage and garbage following the revelry by simply shunning pyrotechnics,” she further said.

The group first assembled in front of the historic church and then paraded in the surrounding area enticing the public, particularly their fellow kids, not to light or even touch firecrackers to avoid injuries and exposure to harmful gases.

In lieu of firecrackers and fireworks, the children blew traditional trumpets (torotot) and created lively sounds from assorted noisemakers, including common stuff from the kitchen such as pans and pots that are generally safe for kids to use.

Citing data from the Department of Health, the group pointed out that 34 % of all firecracker-related injuries from December 21 to January 5, 2010 involved children age 1 to 10.

The victims sustained injuries from blasting without amputation (79%), eye injuries (15%), and blast injuries with amputation (6%).

Of the 1,022 total injuries during the said period, 972 were firecracker-related, 39 were from stray bullets and 11 from the ingestion of firecrackers.

The National Capital Region had the most number of recorded cases at 581, followed by the Ilocos Region (73 cases), Central Luzon and CALABARZON (66 cases each), and Western Visayas (65).

As of 6:00 am of December 25, 2011, there were 30 injuries reported involving people from 2 to 49 years old, according to the Department of Health’s “Aksyon: Paputok Injury Reduction” (APIR) surveillance update.