MIAMI — Every year, parents experience the pain of losing their children due to accidents in the home that could have been prevented.
But Lyse Deus, lead safety educator for the Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Miami, is determined to make sure that no parent has to go through that again.
She makes it her duty to travel into communities in Miami to educate people about proper accident prevention methods that can save children.
“From ages one to four, injury is the number one cause of death for kids and it’s all things that can be prevented,” she recently told the South Florida Times.
Being the lead safety educator means that Deus directs a safety education team while driving the coalition’s 40-foot bus. The specially outfitted mobile unit enables the team to give hands-on tours in English, Spanish and Creole to small groups.
Aboard the bus, the team – which includes Magalie Thomas, Susie Kolb, Isidro Perez, Gioconda Reine, and Gayane Stepanian, director of community affairs at the Injury Free Coalition – is able to demonstrate proper accident prevention methods in the home at almost any location.
“We go everywhere. Schools, health fairs, health centers, day cares, even baby showers. It’s wherever and whoever wants it,” Deus said.
The mobile bus, which is designed to simulate a home, helps the team visually demonstrate bathroom safety, kitchen safety, crib safety and proper product storage methods that can help protect a child from death in the home. The team can also instruct groups on the proper use of infant car seats.
“We actually teach the parents how to make the home safer. [The bus] is like a little house and in each part of the house we show them what to do to make it safer. Outside the bus we also teach helmet safety and car seat safety,” Deus said.
Not surprisingly, Deus fit right in when she began working as a safety educator three years ago for the Injury Free Coalition, which is one of the country's fastest- growing and most effective injury prevention programs for children.
Funded by The Children’s Trust, an independent special taxing district dedicated to provide funding for children’s needs, the Injury Free Coalition was established nine years ago.
The program began through funding from Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Stepanian said, “[The Children’s Trust] has really done a lot to support injury prevention in Miami-Dade County, which is an issue that very few organizations address.”
So far, Deus’ work has gained her one notable award. She was recently awarded The Children’s Trust’s Excellence Award for Public Service at the Champion for Children Award Ceremony in 2008, after being nominated by Stepanian, who is Deus’ supervisor.
Deus received a standing ovation when she was announced for her work in “showing selfless dedication in the direct service of children.”
Juliette Fabien, contract administrator for the Children’s Trust, said, “You can tell she’s really committed to what she’s doing and she’s really knowledgeable. She really tries to engage you and make you a part of the presentation.”
But these accolades are not as important to Deus as the personal reward she said she receives from knowing she might have saved a child’s life.
“It’s rewarding when people come off the bus and say, ‘I didn’t take this seriously but now I see the importance of it,’’’ she said. “Usually, at the beginning when they get on the bus they will say
‘Oh, whatever. There’s nothing that I’m not doing; I have five kids and they’re still alive.’ But after they come out, they actually understand the dangers in different things that we show them.”
Born in Haiti and raised in the small provincial town of St. Louis du Nord, Lyse moved to North Miami when she was only 10. After graduating from North Miami High, she went to Liberty University, a small Christian college in Virginia, where she pursued a bachelor’s degree in Health Promotion, with a minor in Spanish.
“I was always interested in the health field, but didn’t want to become a nurse because I didn’t want to deal with the blood and everything,’’ she said. “I really wanted to deal with the education part of it.”
Deus is in the process of earning her master’s degree online with Liberty University. She says she wants to do more and learn new things in the health field.
“I love it,’’ she said. “It’s work but it it’s fun. I guess when you enjoy something, it doesn’t seem like work. And the people I work with are great!”
Photo: Lyse Deus