Three-time Paralympic Gold Medalist Alana Nichols is teaming up with Buckle Up for Life – a national child passenger safety program created by Toyota and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center – to promote the importance of child passenger safety in vehicles.
In a public service announcement released during National Passenger Safety Week (January 22-28), Nichols discusses how child passenger safety was always a priority for her – yet it grew to an even greater, intensely personal level of importance when she became a mom.
“As a Paralympic athlete, it’s a tremendous privilege to have a public platform from which I can speak,” said Nichols. “And, now as a mother, one of my strongest passions is to help parents and caregivers fully appreciate the importance of child passenger safety.”
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Nichols shares her personal story in the PSA, which was shot at Nichols’ home. It includes scenes of her playing with her 3-year-old son, Gunnar, as well as the two of them driving through their Reno, Nevada, neighborhood in her Toyota Sienna.
She says a catalyst for doing the video was her realization that only one in four car seats is installed correctly.
“I was shocked when I heard that statistic,” she said. “But perhaps I should not have been because I am the first to acknowledge car seat installation can be difficult. So, it’s important for people to know there is a program available – Buckle Up for Life – that can help ensure your car seat is installed correctly.”
Through community events and online resources, Buckle Up for Life provides parents and caregivers the latest information to help find the right seats for their children, and how to install and use those seats properly. They also provide in-person assistance through their local partner agencies.
“Alana’s passion for child passenger safety and her partnership with Buckle Up for Life will help raise awareness to help save lives,” said Gloria Del Castillo, child passenger safety expert at Cincinnati Children’s and senior specialist of community engagement for Buckle Up for Life. “As an athlete, a mom and a member of Team Toyota, her message resonates with parents and caregivers across the nation.”
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“Buckle Up for Life strives to ensure families have the resources and education they need to keep their children safe on the road,” said Keith Jones, senior manager, Strategic Partnerships, Mobility, Toyota Motor North America. “Alana’s support and her heartfelt video message will reach thousands of families. And, at Toyota, we will share her message with team members, customers, and other Toyota partners throughout the nation.”
An avid snowboarder throughout her youth, in 2000 at age 17, Nichols injured her back while attempting a backflip on her snowboard. The injury caused her to be paralyzed from the waist down, but she quickly transitioned to adaptive sports. She is a five-time Paralympian, and six-time medalist. Nichols is the first U.S. female Olympian to win gold medals at both the summer (wheelchair basketball) and winter (alpine ski racing) Paralympic Games.