Saturday, February 21, 2004

Kids get heads-up on helmet safety

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Alison Florea, 7, has her head measured for a bike helmet Friday at the Pleasant Ridge Community Center. A helmet ordinance goes into effect in the city May 1. A group of children was assembled for a program on safety and helmet use.
The Cincinnati Enquirer/MEGGAN BOOKER

PLEASANT RIDGE - Hard-headed behavior could keep Cincinnati kids out of trouble come May 1.

That's when a law goes into effect requiring children 15 and under to a wear a helmet when riding bicycles, scooters and skateboards.

About 40 children from various neighborhoods gathered Friday at the Pleasant Ridge Recreation Center to learn about the importance of wearing a helmet. The Greater Cincinnati Safe Kids Coalition, Kiwanis Club and several hospital groups hosted the event.

Children participated in activities to learn about spinal cord and brain injuries and several bike helmets were awarded. John Kraimer, director of disability services at the University of Cincinnati, performed magic tricks while teaching the group about the importance of protecting their heads.

Kraimer broke his neck in a bicycling accident 13 years ago. He suffered paralysis in his legs and uses a wheelchair.

"If I didn't have my helmet on, I might've had a brain injury, too," Kraimer told the group. "Then I might not be able to think or talk or remember things like I do now. That's why it's important to protect your brain."

Arieonna Gordon-Jackson, 4, of Pleasant Ridge, listened attentively and then asked plenty of questions afterward.

"You've got to be careful when you ride bikes," she said.

Nearly 250 young people die each year because of bicycle-related accidents, according to experts. Another 365,000 are injured.

Krista Jones, injury prevention coordinator for Children's Hospital Medical Center, said teaching bicycle safety could dramatically decrease injuries and deaths among kids 5-9 years old.

Ann Akeson, chairman of the bike helmet initiative for the Kiwanis, said her organization is accepting donations so it can provide helmets for kids who can't afford them. Akeson said the Kiwanis plans to bring helmet safety events to every recreation center in the city.

Councilwoman Laketa Cole helped pass out helmets. Cole, who owns a motorcycle, said she has four helmets.

"I know helmets really do save and protect lives," Cole said. "Not only that, come May it's going to be the law."

Violators will receive:

• First offense: a warning.

• Second offense: Parent and child required to attend safety training.

• Third offense: Parent and child will be summoned to juvenile court and face a fine up to $100.


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