Fingerprints, photos give parents peace of mind

Maryam Tofighbakhsh was willing to set aside her pink sucker—briefly—while she swabbed the insides of her cheeks.

Her DNA sample became part of a free kit that includes her photo, fingerprints and a video interview, courtesy of area Masonic Lodges’ Illinois Child Identification Program. Roger Hills spends time assuring parents the invaluable information is theirs to keep.

“We only keep the permission slip. The families keep the rest of the packet,” the Urbana Masonic Lodge member said, explaining police could use the kits to help search for and identify missing children. “We hope they never have to use it, but we do hope it gives families peace of mind.”

That’s the idea behind Saturday’s Playing It Safe—reducing injuries and even death by teaching families practical ways to stay safe. Like a few hundred others, 9-year-old Maryam and her younger sister, Fatemeh, experienced hands-on safety lessons inside while it rained outside during the 20th annual event at the Champaign County Fairgrounds, which Carle hosts with Safe Kids Champaign County, as well as partners WDWS/WHMS/WKIO radio station and Sonic Drive-In.

“While Carle stands ready to help children and families affected by severe injuries and other dangers, our goal is sharing education to keep children safe and out of our Emergency Department,” said Henry Moore, MD, trauma surgeon and Playing It Safe physician chair.

“We want parents and other caregivers to know what to do in a host of situations so we can prevent accidents and save lives.”

That message is reaching parents, indeed.

“I read the description from ChambanaMoms.com, and I knew Playing It Safe would be a fun and informative event for our family,” said Zahra Tofighbakhsh of Champaign.

Her husband, Dr. Seyed Tofighbakhsh, is completing his medical residency in Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery at Carle.

They agree their daughters learned a lot about proper hand-washing to avoid spreading bacteria and how to handle strangers.

“It may not all sink in right away, but if the time ever comes, they will know what to do,” their mother said.

Seven-year-old Fatemeh readily recited what stuck with her.

“To stay safe, I need to stick with my parents. And if I get lost, I need to ask the police for help,” she said.

“And I need to keep wearing my bike helmet so my head doesn’t crack and break.”

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