Safe Kids provide third graders with helmets

Mar. 01, 2013 @ 05:39 AM

Safe Kids Rutherford County and volunteers have given out 10,000 helmets to students across the county through their third-grade bike helmet program.

“This is a monumental year for us having fitted 10,000 helmets during the 10 or 11 years we have been doing this,” said Chris Burley, Safe Kids coordinator.

The program was started in Rutherford County by Wilber Burgin, a retired Navy captain, who got the idea for the it from a newspaper article he read from California. Burley took over in 2002. The goal is to provide all third grade students in the county with a bicycle helmet

“I originally wrote the grant to do safety things and I took Burgin’s idea and added on to it,” Burley said. “It is a good program and we even have some documented saves because of our helmets.”

Throughout the month of February, volunteers with Safe Kids fit third graders at all of the elementary schools with bicycle helmets. On Thursday, they visited third grade classes at Harris Elementary, the last school on their list.

“My favorite thing about this is interacting with the kids and volunteers. It is neat that when I am in Walmart or somewhere, kids will come up and say ‘mommy that is the helmet man,’” Burley said. “We also know how important this is, especially having those documented saves. The organizations that support us have helped us to provide a quality helmet that will fit for years. We have prevented at least one brain injury and maybe more.”

Along with fitting each student for a helmet, the volunteers hand out bicycle safety tips pamphlets and talk to them about why it is important to wear the helmets correctly.

“Your brain controls everything you do. Your brain tells your body to breathe and your heart to beat. Everything we do everyday comes from the brain,” Burley told the students on Thursday. “That is why we need to protect that area by wearing the helmets.”

Burley also told them a story about a child he knows that was saved from serious brain injury because he was wearing a helmet.

“His helmet absorbed the impact instead of his skull. Because he was wearing his helmet, he survived his bike accident which could have been severe,” Burley told the students. “His accident happened a block from his house. Most accidents do happen at your house because that is where you spend the most time. Please put on the helmet even if you are just going down the driveway.”

Each student was then asked to sign a contract stating that they would wear their helmets every time they ride their bike.

Bicycle helmet sponsors include Safe Kids Rutherford County, Kiwanis of Forest City, Kiwanis of Rutherfordton and the Pilot Club of Rutherford County.