Superintendent Scott Weidmark knows the importance of wearing a helmet when riding a bike.
The 12 Division unit commander had a bad fall almost 30 years ago, cycling down a hill at 60 kilometres an hour. He hit his head but, thankfully, the helmet he was wearing bore the brunt of the impact, saving his life.
It was why Weidmark was happy to be part of a safety initiative at Saint Matthews Catholic Elementary School, where 275 students were given bicycle helmets. The helmet giveaway precedes 12 Division’s bike rodeo program, which is run by Constable Peter De Quintal and Auxiliary members.
“They’ve been cycling for a few years but don’t necessarily know all the safety components of cycling,” said De Quintal, of the rodeos that teach kids the rules of the road.
“A lot of these kids think I can cycle and I don’t need to wear a helmet because I’m that good at cycling but you need to wear a helmet for a lot of reasons,” said De Quintal, of preventing concussions or severe brain injuries while noting the law requires kids to wear a helmet.
The helmets were given by law firm Jewell Radimisis Jorge as part of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association’s Helmets on Kids campaign, which has seen 22,000 helmets donated to children across Ontario over the past 15 years.
“Our initiative is to promote safety and prevent injury within the community,” said Michelle Jorge, a partner at the firm. “Every time we help one child we are making a difference, hopefully they will go and promote the message to their families and friends in the community.”
“Any day you can give away 275 helmets to help keep kids safe is a good day,” said Weidmark.
Vice Principal Christine Hunter said she was glad the older children were also getting helmets because, as role models, they would affect behaviour for the younger classes.
“Our older students also act as role models for our younger students, and we figure it’s great to teach them some things at an early age so that habit continues on and they can be role models to the younger kids,” said Hunter.
The students were taught about the importance of bike safety and why one should wear a helmet when riding a bike. They were told about the impact a bump to the head can cause to the brain by Jim Anagnostopoulos, CEO of Access Rehab Injury Clinic.
After hearing about concussions and brain injuries, eight-year-old Sabrina was happy to know her friends would be safe with a helmet.
“I am very glad we are getting helmets and we are going to be safe and we are all going to go bike riding and not get damaged and stuff. I’m really happy because I don’t want anyone to get hurt or anything,” said the grade 3 student, as she got fitted for a helmet.
The 12 Division Auxiliary officers helped with the helmet fittings. They also help with running the bike rodeos.
“You get to interact with the kids and you get to keep them safe and teach them how to be safe on the road. It’s really rewarding,” said 12 Division Auxiliary Staff Sergeant Joyce Kwok.