Bike helmets focus of safety campaign

Children who wear bike helmets and practise safe riding skills will be targets of a reward campaign that will be kicked off Monday across the district by the Rainy River Valley Safety Coalition.
Uniformed police, fire, and ambulance personnel will be taking part in the campaign by handing out helmet stickers and positive reinforcement to children with good bike behaviour, said program co-ordinator Grace Silander, manager of district ambulance services.
The sticker campaign last ran in 1996 and saw 400 children reached through its “do right” message.
“We ran it in the fall [of ’96] and saw positive results but the impact we put out there was at the wrong time of year,” Silander noted. “This time we’re going to run it prior to summer vacation to get kids wearing helmets and riding in a safe manner all summer.
“We’re going to be checking at the schools and checking kids who are riding with their [parents],” she added. “And we’re hoping to get moms and dads to walk the talk.”
RRVSC chairman Doug Anderson said the campaign was a simple but important one because it focused on catching kids doing something right.
“It’s reverse peer pressure,” he reasoned Monday. “It’s about everyone doing the right thing.”
Silander admitted the bike helmet issue was still seen in a negative light by some youths but stressed their need for head protection far out-weighed the unfavourable aspects of wearing some.
“The anatomy of children is such that their head is large in proportion to their bodies and if they fall [off a bike], it’s usually on their head,” she remarked.
“Head injuries can be so devastating. The child may not die but may not be the same child as before the accident,” she stressed.
Children who receive stickers also will have their names entered in a draw for some great prizes, Silander noted, including a grand prize draw June 30 for a new bicycle.
Fort Frances OPP Cst. Mark Boileau said under the law, children aged 18 and under have to wear a helmet and are subject to a fine of $65 for not wearing one.
Police can fine the parent of a child under the age of 16 caught not wearing a helmet.