by Nate Imig
Sometimes the best advice comes from an 8-year-old.
"If you fall off your bike and you don't have a helmet you could bust your head, or you could die or something because your brain could turn off," Maya, an MPS third grader said.
She's absolutely right. Riding a bike without a helmet is extremely dangerous. This summer, too many kids will end up in the ER — or worse — just because they didn't wear a helmet while on wheels.
But Children's Hospital is aiming to change that with a program called Winners Wear Helmets. The program is in its tenth year.
More than 600 MPS third graders gathered at State Fair park for a bike rodeo. Police officers led seminars where students learned the basics of bike safety. But first things first — all the kids received free bike helmets donated by Habush Habush and Rottier.
With those new helmets strapped on, the kids split into groups and navigated a bike obstacle course which recreated typical hazards they may see on the road. Among many new skills, kids learned how safely come to a stop and how to navigate around debris in the road.
Organizers of the event say wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of brain injury up to 88 percent. That means almost nine out of ten times a child is in a bike accident, he or she will walk away from it.
Lisa Klindt-Simpson, co-organizer of the program, says helmets aren't only for bikes. Kids should be wearing a helmet anytime they're on wheels. This includes scooters, skateboards, and roller blades. She says it's a matter of life and death.
Just this year, Winners Wear Helmets celebrated donating its 10,000th helmet to kids in need.
And it's a message one third grader said adults could take to heart, too. He said simply, adults could "bust their head" without a helmet. After a short pause, he added "their head could be bleeding or their head could crack."
Again, sometimes an 8-year-old knows best.
To hear the audio version of this story, click the player below.