By Communications Specialist, Grades 9-12, Maegan Azpiazu
After watching devastating news stories about babies forgotten in the backseats of cars and dying of heat stroke, Kelly Ann Cosentino '19 knew she wanted to help. In 2014, with her own funding, she founded the Baby Heat Stroke Institute and created www.BabyHeatStroke.org.
Last summer, Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and city commissioners gave Kelly Ann a proclamation in recognition of her civic commitment and activities as an activist educating people on the dangers of baby heat stroke. During a commission meeting at Miami City Hall, Regalado established June 8, 2017, as "Kelly Ann Cosentino and Baby Heat Stroke Institute Day in The City of Miami" – a recognition equivalent to a key to the city.
This summer, Kelly Ann is teaching a baby heat stroke curriculum, which she developed, in Miami-Dade County Public Schools' adult education programs.
"Through many emails and phone calls, I was able to speak with the Miami-Dade Public Schools [MDPS] superintendent [Alberto Carvalho]," Kelly Ann said. "They [MDPS] asked me to create a curriculum for baby heat stroke because they were interested in the topic and wanted to [educate] their students [about] this important child safety issue. I developed the curriculum with [Gulliver's] Dean of Academics and Curriculum, Mr. Ruben Valencia, who was uniquely qualified and happy to help. For over a year, we worked on the curriculum together."
Once the curriculum was submitted, MDPSl officials evaluated it over the course of several months. At the end of May, they approved it for long-term use, and Kelly Ann has already begun teaching seminars.
"The curriculum will be taught to teenage moms and adult education classes," she said. "Approximately 50 students attend my class and I use electronic media to teach about child safety. Teachers and administrators are usually present and everyone contributes. There is also a question and answer session. The feedback has been super-positive and there are many students who are touched, engaged, and are alarmed to hear this information. Many cry after seeing the re-enactment video of a child left in the backseat of a car." Kelly Ann spelled out the three most important things she wants people to take away: "Never leave a child unattended in a car, look before you lock and call 911 if you see a child left in the backseat."
BabyHeatStroke.org has been featured on the TV show "Inside Edition," Carter Outdoor Advertising donated a pair of billboards for the organization's message and Kelly Ann continues to speak to city officials and law enforcement to further awareness of baby heat stroke.
What's next? "I will be doing a series of radio shows in English and Spanish to bring awareness to the community," Kelly Ann said. "I also just met with Senator Dennis Baxley [R-Ocala], who will be meeting with me regularly as we take a bill to the Florida State Legislature."
In addition to her work in the community, Kelly Ann is very involved at Gulliver, serving as Vice President of Chorus, Co-President of the Music Club and President of the Spanish Honor Society. She is a talented singer, takes part in the drama program, and is a member of the National Honor Society, Cum Laude Society and Gulliver Prep Academic Honor Code (GPAHC) Student Council. An exceptional student, Kelly Ann is in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme and received the Princeton University Book Award at Gulliver Prep's Annual Academic Awards Ceremony on May 2.