Mountaineer fans attending Saturdays (Sept. 28) football game against East Carolina at Mountaineer Field will have an opportunity to protect their children by picking up a free child identification kit as part of the American Football Coaches Associations National Child Identification Program (NCIDP).

Students enrolled in West VirginiaUniversitys unique Forensic Identification Program along with representatives of the FBI s AutomatedFingerprintIdentificationCenter in Clarksburg will be manning tables and handing out the free kits outside the stadium gates beginning at halftime and continuing through the end of the game.

The NCIDP kit provides parents and guardians with a clean, convenient way to record their childs fingerprints and physical characteristics on a card they can keep at home. Each kit contains an inkless fingerprinting foil pouch, containing a clear, non-toxic fingerprint solution and an identification card which includes: step-by-step instructions detailing how to take a fingerprint, an area to practice fingerprinting, a standard fingerprint area that can be used by law enforcement, sections for recording the childs physical description and identifying marks, space for a current photograph and sections for recording a doctors phone numbers.”With the rash of child kidnappings across the country this summer, the importance of doing all we can to protect our children has been underscored,”said Michael Yura, director of WVU s one-of-a-kind forensics program.”We are excited to be part of this initiative along with the local FBI .”

The NCIDP was created in 1997 by the American Football Coaches Association as a community service initiative to help protect Americas youth and change the statistics related to missing children. According to the AFCA web site, approximately 450,000 children run away, 350,000 are abducted by a family member and 4,600 are abducted by strangers each year. That is more than 800,000 children missing each year or one every 40 seconds.

“Our kids are important to all of us, and thats why the American Football Coaches Association has become involved in a national effort to keep them safe,”said WVU Head Football Coach Rich Rodriguez.”I hope all Mountaineer parents will take a few minutes and use these kits to help protect their children.”

In appreciation of their efforts and as a sign of the Coaches Associations commitment to the program, representatives from the two sponsoring agencies were presented with an autographed football helmet Tuesday by Coach Rodriguez.

The NCIDP has become the largest child identification effort ever conducted. Since 1997, more than 10 million inkless child identification kits have been distributed by various organizations at football stadiums and in schools across the country.

In the fall of 2001, the FBI partnered with NCIDP , allowing the program to supply identification kits to more than 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies across the country. The partnership decentralizes the fingerprinting process for law enforcement and greatly increases the number of children protected in each community.