In a unique twist on insurance-sponsored credit/debit card programs, Toronto-based Sun Life Financial is going above and beyond the call of duty as a financial services provider by offering the first national medical-emergency identification card for children and their parents.Available initially to Sun Life employees and eventually to customers, the card was developed by Boston-based Kidz Card Inc. Thus far, Sun Life is the first and only corporate user of the Kidz Card.

The card is designed to carry potentially life-saving medical information and emergency contacts. Along with personal vitals, the card doubles as a pre-paid phone card-it's loaded with 10 minutes of prepaid phone service provided by long-distance provider Sprint.

"A major part of our corporate giving program revolves around the health and well-being of children, so the product closely aligns with our values and initiatives," says Jim McNulty, executive vice president for Sun Life.

Sun Life is making cards available first to its 2,800 U.S. employees, and will offer the card to its U.S. distributors and wholesalers later this year. "Kidz Card is always interested in partnering with like-minded corporations demonstrating the highest level of corporate responsibility," says Nathan Berkowitz, who co-founded Kidz Card in 2002 based on an idea from his son to create an identification card for kids.

According to Jeff Landis, a spokesman for Sun Life, Kidz Card membership provides three ID cards-one for a child and two for parents and/or caregivers.

The details parents can place on the card include: a current photo; name; birth date; height; weight; hair and eye color; allergies; medications; chronic illnesses; and home, work and mobile phone numbers for primary and secondary emergency contacts.

Parents are encouraged to order additional customized cards for custodial guardians, grandparents, daycare providers, baby sitters and others responsible for their children's care.

Kidz Card memberships are recommended for children ages six to 16. A special membership for parents with children too young to carry the card also is available. Cards are housed in a nylon surfer wallet-a child's first wallet.

Landis didn't disclose what Sun Life paid to participate in the program. The Sun Life name or corporate logo does not appear on the cards. Going forward, Landis says the company plans to promote the program to customers when it mails out policy renewal statements, and may even provide details on its Web site at www.sunlife.com.

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