updated 10/4/2010 2:45:13 AM ET 2010-10-04T06:45:13

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 2, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Toyota, in partnership with Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, today announced the expansion of the Buckle Up For Life safety program, at an event held at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Los Angeles, California.

Buckle Up For Life, or "Abrochate a la Vida" in Spanish, was created in 2004 by medical trauma specialists at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, in partnership with Toyota. The program was designed to educate Hispanic families on the importance of keeping their families safe while driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hispanic children are three times more likely to die in a vehicle accident than other children.

Participants at the Los Angeles event, who had already been part of a six-week pilot program at St. Thomas the Apostle, learned about vehicle safety and injury prevention through free car seat inspections, interactive displays and informational booths. Families who did not previously own a child car safety seat were given one, compliments of the program. Festivities also included a children's parade, music, food and several other activities for the family.

"Safety is a priority for Toyota," said Pat Pineda, Toyota's group vice president of national philanthropy. "In addition to enhancing the safety of our own vehicles, we are dedicated to supporting education programs that help drivers and passengers develop responsible habits to protect them on the road at every stage of life."

Buckle Up for Life is unique in that it meets Hispanics in their communities, delivering information to them in a familiar setting and increasing the opportunity for involvement. Toyota and the hospitals partner with local faith based organizations to deliver safety and prevention education to participants.

"After participating in the Buckle Up for Life program in Greater Cincinnati, the number of adults and children using seat belts and car seats more than doubled," added Pineda. "The program has proven to be a successful and sustainable model in meeting the pressing needs of the community and Toyota is proud to support its expansion to Los Angeles."

"Injury and death due to vehicle-related injuries is preventable," said Dr. Jeffery S. Upperman, Director of Trauma at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. "If we can save just one child's life, all of our efforts have been worth it."

About Childrens Hospital Los Angeles

Founded in 1901, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles is one of the nation's leading children's hospitals and is acknowledged worldwide for its leadership in pediatric and adolescent health. Childrens Hospital Los Angeles is one of only seven children's hospitals in the nation – and the only children's hospital on the West Coast – ranked for two consecutive years in all 10 pediatric specialties in the U.S. News & World Report rankings and named to the magazine's "Honor Roll" of children's hospitals.

The Saban Research Institute at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles is among the largest and most productive pediatric research facilities in the United States, with 100 investigators at work on 186 laboratory studies, clinical trials and community-based research and health services. The Saban Research Institute is ranked eighth in National Institutes of Health funding among children's hospitals in the United States.

Childrens Hospital Los Angeles is a premier teaching hospital and has been affiliated with the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California since 1932.  

About Cincinnati Children's Hospital

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center is one of just eight children's hospitals named to the Honor Roll in U.S. News and World Report's 2010-11 Best Children's Hospitals. It is ranked #1 for digestive disorders and highly ranked for its expertise in pulmonology, cancer, neonatology, heart and heart surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, diabetes and endocrinology, orthopedics, kidney disorders and urology. Cincinnati Children's is one of the top two recipients of pediatric research grants from the National Institutes of Health. It is internationally recognized for quality and transformation work by Leapfrog, The Joint Commission, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and by hospitals and health organizations it works with globally. Additional information can be found at www.cincinnatichildrens.org .

About Toyota

Toyota (NYSE:TM) established operations in the United States in 1957 and currently operates 10 manufacturing plants, including one under construction. Toyota directly employs nearly 30,000 in the U.S. and its investment here is currently valued at more than $18 billion, including sales and manufacturing operations, research and development, financial services and design.

Toyota is committed to being a good corporate citizen in the communities where it does business and believes in supporting programs with long-term sustainable results. Toyota supports numerous organizations across the country, focusing on education, the environment and safety. Since 1991, Toyota has contributed more than $500 million to philanthropic programs in the U.S.  

For more information on Toyota's commitment to improving communities nationwide, visit http://www.toyota.com/philanthropy .

© Copyright 2012, GlobeNewswire, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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