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Program offers free medical ID bracelets for children

POSTED September 16, 2009 8:50 a.m.
Between science class and language arts, most teachers have trouble remembering their students’ names let alone what they are allergic to.  It is difficult to know every student’s medical history when they have numerous students wondering in and out of their classroom every day. MedicAlert Foundation makes medical identification bracelets for this reason. Sometimes though, people have trouble affording these life-saving bracelets.  
This is what inspired MedicAlert to start a new program in the United States called No Child Without/Safely Ever After. This program, originally started in Canada, offers free medical identification bracelets to children between the ages of four and 14. The free MedicAlert membership is available until the child reaches the age of 14.      
In attempt to involve the community and slowly launch this program, MedicAlert Foundation hosted an event Sept. 12 to promote the No Child Without/Safely Ever After program within local Lions clubs.    
“We want to build relationships first to get all the help that we can get from the community once this program takes off,” said Martin Kabat, CEO of MedicAlert Foundation.  
The invite-only event included Lion’s Club members from Tracy, Stockton, Turlock, Lodi and Merced.
Since last year, the program has been 100 percent funded through MedicAlert until other sponsors participate, Kabat said. After sponsors help out, MedicAlert still pays more than half to support a child for the 10-year membership. It is $100 per child for a sponsor and MedicAlert pays $180 additional per child. The total cost for the program to support children in Turlock is $14,000.    
The goal is to fully support the three million children in the United States through this program, at a total cost of $300 million, Kabat said. Right now, there are about 140 children in this program who are within the Turlock area.    
To support these children MedicAlert needs help from the community.   
MedicAlert is hoping to build a close relationship with the Lion’s Clubs in the United States to become partners in this program, Kabat said. The first step is building a partnership with the Lions then, involve the government like MedicAlert did in Canada, he said.
After getting the support from the community, MedicAlert will be working on giving each child the opportunity to become a part of this program. The program will be run through the school districts.  
Each school district is then responsible for distributing application brochures for the bracelets which are then given to the parents, Kabat said. The parent then decides if they want their child to have a free bracelet. School administrators can also recommend a student for this program. Currently, the Turlock Unified School District is supporting the No Child Without/Safely Ever After program.      
To be a part of this program the child just needs to be between the age of four and 14, there are no qualifications or restrictions.  
“We don’t pay attention to the parent’s financial status or where they come from,” he said. “If the child needs a bracelet, they will get one.”  
Through this program, the children receive the same benefits as a regular membership. They receive 24-hour emergency information access, family and caregiver information, medical information management and product access, according to MedicAlert.    
The program in Canada sponsored more than 12,000 children in 1,500 schools. It is funded by Lion’s Clubs of Canada and $5 million funding from the Canadian government.  
If interested in participating in this program, contact Victor Mitre at 669-2422 or e-mail vmitre@medicalert.org.  
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail mmartens@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.
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