With news of the recent IKEA dresser recall making international headlines, child safety is on many people’s minds this summer. Chicago is home to one of the only parent-focused and parent-founded children’s product safety and advocacy groups in the country, Kids in Danger (KID). We were fortunate to speak with Laura Nikolovska, Program Director, to learn more about KID and how the KID Young Professionals Board supports its mission.
CharityScenes: Tell us a bit about how KID was started.
Laura Nikolovska:As you might expect with a children’s product safety group, it has a sad origin story. Our founders are a married couple and in 1998, their son Dannywas 16 months old when he was strangled to death by the travel crib at his daycare. After his death, they found out it was not a one-off accident as they had originally assumed but that four other children had been killed by the crib and that it had been recalled five yearsearlier. They founded KID when they learned that product safety is often not taken into account during the design process, even for baby and children’s products, and that there weren’t any organizations out there representing parents when it came to this issue. KID founders’ ultimate goal was to make sure any product that you purchase for children has been tested for safety and meets a strong safety standard.
CS: That’s such a sad story. Almost twenty years later, how has the organization evolved?
LN: We are still the only organization of our kind in the country: one that advocates solely for children’s product safety, that empowers parents with information that they might not otherwise access to, and that represents the consumer’s best interest when recalls occur. Most people don’t even realize that the issue we’re addressing is a problem, they want to trust that manufacturers have their families’ well-being in mind when they design and sell products. What’s unique about us is that though we remain a small nonprofit here in Chicago, we’re having a national impact on the issue—an international impact even—and that’s gratifying to see.
CS: You have quite a large social media following. How did you build that and what tips do you have for other nonprofits who want to do so?
LN: You know, we have thousands of followers on Facebook and Twitter and we believe that they are mostly interested in our network for the safety information we can provide. We started off with posts and tweets about our organization, but we really found our voice and hit our stride when we started sharing information and empowering the thousands of parents and caregivers who follow us with knowledge and information. That would be my advice for other nonprofits: become a source of information and general knowledge instead of a self-promoter and you’ll gain a lot of support and build a strong brand.
CS: Tell us a little bit about the Young Professionals Board. Are its members mostly parents?
LN: It may be surprising, but no! We are about 16 strong right now and only 2 are parents, and one is a parent-to-be. The othermembers found us through past volunteer experiences with KID, through supporters of the organization, and sometimes they just found us online. KID’s Young Professionals Board was started in January 2015 and like other associate-level boards, the intention of the group is to raise awareness and funds for KID. We focus on organizing small events in the Chicago area throughout the year. Our most recent event was at Revolution Brew Pub on March 6 and it was really a blast. Our next event will be later this summer. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more information. We encourage anyone interested in joining a small but mighty effort having a powerful impact to come out and learn more!