Posted by Editoress on 05/4/06
Province of Manitoba Boosts Bike Helmets
From the Winnipeg Free Press
The Manitoba government is making low-cost bicycle and skateboarding helmets available through schools to promote safe recreation.
The $10 to $13 helmets, available through a partnership with a Hamilton company, are part of the government's effort to encourage more young people to get active while wearing the right protective gear.
In addition to bike helmets, multi-sport helmets favoured by skateboarders, in-line skaters and other extreme sports players can be purchased at the very low price. All the helmets are certified by the Canadian Standards Association.
Research shows that wearing bike helmets can reduce brain injuries by as much as 85 per cent.
"Anything that promotes safety is a good thing," said Gail Singer, principal of Earl Grey School in Fort Rouge. "I hope they are good helmets. I paid $80 for one last year and there really wasn't much of a selection."
Howard Skrypnyk, the injury prevention co-ordinator for the province's Department of Healthy Living, is confident about the helmets' quality. He said the Hamilton company, Seven Star Sports, sources its product from China but so do companies that make high-priced models.
"We took a long time finding the best supplier and we got a great deal," Skrypnyk said.
The ranks of people who refuse to wear helmets because it's hard -- if not impossible -- to look good in them seem to be thinning.
"Wearing helmets is becoming more acceptable among peer groups and the more kids who wear helmets means more of them are safer," said Tess Wilson of KidSport. "These might not be the most flashy helmets around but they won't stand out as the cheapest looking ones either."
A study done more than a decade ago by a research group at Health Sciences Centre showed that between 20 and 30 per cent of bicyclists in the province wore helmets regularly.
"But we have seen a gradual increase in usage over the years," Skrypnyk said.
The cost of helmets has been shown to be a factor in usage in Manitoba. When Canadian Tire ran a national promotion several years ago that included a $5 coupon, purchases in Manitoba spiked.
Bike helmets are not mandatory in Manitoba, unlike some other provinces. There are no plans to change the law in Manitoba.
Arrangements have been made to make safety helmet order forms available to all 225,000 students enrolled in Manitoba schools. Program officials expect an uptake of about 10 per cent.
Schools received order forms late last month and the money needs to be in by tomorrow. Singer said there has not been a particularly strong response so far but she and others believe part of the problem is that children don't always make their parents aware of the information they bring home from school.
Adults and infants can also order helmets through any school or day care.
KidSport Manitoba, the charity that helps families enrol children in sporting activity, will also have a few hundred available to schools and day cares that request them for families who are not able to afford the price.
Helmet do's, don'ts
Never allow children to ride without helmets.
Make sure they use approved helmets. Such helmets carry ANSI, SNELL or CSA stickers.
Make sure the helmet is bright and fits the rider snugly.
Make sure the helmet is worn appropriately. It should sit level on the head, covering the forehead with the rim just above the eyebrows.
Ensure that the helmet is new or almost new. Most helmets last for five years but they should be replaced if they get hit hard by any object.
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