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Teen Reduces Hospital Parking Fees

Gidon Goodman, a 14 year old from Sydney, managed to collect 70,000 signatures on his petition to Australia’s Health Minister to change the policy on hospital parking fees after his family spent more than $10,000 while dealing with his rare blood condition. Thanks to his efforts, parking fees at all Sydney public hospitals will now be discounted for regular patients and visitors. Families at the Sydney Children’s Hospital will only pay $21.20 instead of the current $196 per week, while those at St George Hospital will see the $231 parking fee reduced by more than 90 percent. The state-wide concessions would make all the difference for families who spend a lot of time in hospital. “They should be worrying about their path to recovery and not worrying about hospital parking,” Gidon explained.

French Kids Must Wear Helmets

Bicycles are super fun, but you have to be safe when riding. France is taking bike safety very seriously after last year saw a seven percent hike in cyclist road deaths. Now they have made it mandatory for children under the age of 12 to wear helmets every time they ride their bikes, even if they are the passengers and not the bike rider. Failure to do so can result in a fine of €90 for the parents. France is a very bike-friendly place and the government is hoping that this new law will also influence adults, who rarely wear helmets while cycling. “If parents aren wearing helmets, their children will ask them about it. We want to pass on the message through the voices of the children” Emmanuel Barbe, the government road safety tsar, told Le Parisien newspaper. Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of a serious head injury by 70 percent, the risk of minor injury by 31 percent, and the risk of facial injuries by 28 percent, according to France road safety guide. Several other European countries have helmet laws in place for children, including Malta, Sweden, Slovenia and the Czech Republic, according to the European Commission.

There is a New Kid on Sesame Street….and She’s Autistic

Julia has red hair and green eyes. She is the first Muppet to be introduced on Sesame Street in a decade. She is also autistic. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that one in 68 American children are autistic, so they will appreciate having a character that relates to them. Julia is like any other typical four year old. She enjoys painting and flowers, but the audience will notice that she has some differences. Like many children on the autism spectrum, Julia has a hard time focusing, fears loud noises and frequently repeats what others say instead of having her own answers to questions. Senior Vice President of Community and Family Engagement at Sesame Workshop, Jeanette Betancourt, has been helping plot the development of Julia for about three years. Julia started last year as a character in Sesame books and digital offerings. For now, Julia will appear in English and Spanish in the U.S., Australia, the U.K. and Mexico, but soon she will make more friends as the program expands to countries throughout the world later in the year.

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