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 SAN DIEGO, Sept. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- A California entrepreneur mom, who watched neighborhood street traffic endanger too many children, hopes a simple idea will save more kids' lives. Her new child safety device, Sidewalk Sergeant(TM), has been introduced in 110 stores by national toy and children's products retailer Toys R Us.
 Sales for the 18-inch and 28-inch neon-colored traffic cones, emblazoned with the warning "Children Playing," are brisk, and Toys R Us is preparing its second order. For Sidewalk Sergeant(TM) creator and mother Marilyn Noonan, that is good news.
 "Traffic accidents are the No. 1 cause of death for children ages 6 to 12," said Noonan. "Research has shown that a child's field of vision is 1/3 that of an adult's, and most children can't judge how fast traffic may be moving. Very young children see cars as friendly, living creatures."
 Noonan said there are two common misconceptions by children about street traffic.
 "Children believe that if they can see a driver, the driver can see them," she explained. "Second, children believe that cars can stop instantly. The National Safe Kids Campaign points out that the majority of children don't recognize danger or react to it."
 Noonan created the specialized traffic cone to alert motorists to slow for children at play near residential streets. The idea was conceived watching neighborhood traffic travel past her young sons at play on the sidewalk. She hit upon the idea of using brightly colored safety cones used by traffic crews to protect themselves. When she added the bold Sidewalk Sergeant(TM) graphic and the words "Children Playing" to the cones, the change was dramatic. Cars slowed to a cautious pace, and her children learned a lesson in safety every time they set out the cones.
 "Sidewalk Sergeant(TM) accomplishes three basic objectives: It alerts motorists that there are kids at play; it heightens children's safety awareness; and it provides a visible play zone boundary," said Noonan.
 Noonan's product debut comes at a time when there is increasing concern from experts about childhood safety.
 "If disease were killing our children in the proportion that accidents are, people would be outraged and demand that this killer be stopped," said former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, M.D., who is now chairing the National Safe Kids Campaign.
 Safety products for children now represent a $100 million segment of the $3 billion juvenile products industry. An Ernst & Young report, commissioned by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, estimated that juvenile product sales have skyrocketed from $1.15 billion in 1982 to its present $3 billion mark.
 Another entrepreneur, Mark Lerner, founded an $11 million business, Safety First, based upon another simple product idea -- the "Baby On Board" car signs. Safety First went public this year with a stock offering of 2 million shares.
 Noonan, 32, took her idea to one of the country's leading manufacturers of industrial safety products, Services & Materials Co., and assembled an advisory board of marketing and sales experts. With production underway, Noonan approached retailer Toys R Us.
 "Toys R Us immediately saw the Sidewalk Sergeant's(TM) potential and agreed to launch its introduction in more than 100 stores," said Noonan. "Our lead markets are Chicago, Los Angeles and San Diego."
 The full-time mother of four boys, Noonan believes strongly in spending time with her family. She enrolled in karate to share more time with her boys and wound up with a recent medal in an AAU tournament. Her husband, Greg, a commercial real estate broker, is proud of Noonan's achievements.
 "She has taken a simple product meant to protect our own children and made it available to thousands of families across the country," said Greg Noonan. "It's affordable and easy to use. Not bad for a first- time entrepreneur!"
 Noonan admits that creating this business venture has been a challenge with plenty of future potential.
 "I can't make any predictions, but expanding further into educational and child safety products is a definite possibility," she said.
 -0- 9/16/93
 /CONTACT: Waltona Manion, 619-674-1141/

CO: Toys R Us ST: California IN: HOU SU: PDT

LM-LS -- SD003 -- 2633 09/16/93 11:02 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 16, 1993

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