EATON — Eaton Community Schools’ second graders are being taught to “Put a Lid on it!” thanks to local bike advocacy group Preble Trails.
The group visited Hollingsworth East Elementary for their second annual bike helmet give away for all second graders on Friday, May 12. The goal, according to Preble Trails Chair Heidi Bortel, is to teach the children about bike safety at a young age in hopes the lesson sticks with them.
This giveaway is made possible through an Ohio Academy of Pediatrics grant and a campaign called “Put a Lid on It!”
The grant is not funded with money, but rather a quantity of helmets to give away. According to Bortel, they were only short by 20 helmets this year, so Preble Trails bought those additional helmets for the children. They were only, at most, $15 a piece, which Bortel says is what a parent would spend.
“We’re happy about the fact that we can give that to them for free,” she added.
According to the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP), each year, the number of people injured by not wearing a bike helmet is 51,000, which is enough people to fill half of Ohio State stadium. Providing a $10 helmet to a child can also take $41 out of the health care system.
Since 2011, the Ohio AAP has operated the “Put a Lid on It!” Campaign to promote Bike Helmet Safety Awareness. More than 30,000 helmets have been given out.
For the third year, the Ohio AAP is partnering with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to distribute up to 10,0000 bike helmets to organizations around the state. ODOT will again allow the Ohio AAP to set up boxes with thousands of helmets at their facility near downtown Columbus to had out to police departments, schools, and dozens of other organizations. These organizations will hold events during Bike Helmet Safety Awareness Month – which is May 2017.
According to Bortel, Preble Trails’ main goals is advocacy for safe bicycling, bike paths, trails, and shared bike lanes for Preble County, but they also enjoy focusing on safety and education for children.
She said, “We gave to the whole second grade last year, and we’re doing it again this year. The commissioners are going to be here and Steve Hurd, who is one of our officers in town, will be here. We just like to do fun skits to make it fun. You know, it doesn’t have to be this serious dark thing. Just use protective gear when you are bicycling.
“We put flyers in the teachers’ mail boxes so that they all get a flyer about what happens when you don’t wear a helmet, not any scary horror stories, but enough to know. It can happen really easily, even on a bike path where there’s no traffic you can get bad head injuries.
“Hopefully getting them this young makes them get into the practice of it.”
The event kicked off with a presentation from Preble Trails Committee Co-Char Dan Schmidt and Secretary Holly Steele. The two performed a skit called Mr. Right and Ms. Wrong, where Schmidt demonstrated how to bike safely and Steele made a series of mistakes that children could point out later. For example, Steele wore baggy clothing, had her headphones hanging out of her pockets, did not look where she was biking, and rode on a bike made for a small child.
Bortel added, the kids enjoy the skit because it’s interactive and gives them an opportunity to showcase their bike knowledge.
After the skit, City of Eaton Bicycle Police Officer Hurd gave a presentation on bike safety.
Preble County Commissioners Denise Robertson, Rodney Creech, and Chris Day helped out by fitting a few of the students for their helmets.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH