A helmet giveaway program helps get young bicyclists off to a safe start.
Congratulations to everyone involved in a program that provides free bicycle helmets to local children and teaches them the importance of strapping them on.
Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical has taken the lead on this project since 1996, and several local businesses have contributed funding to buy the helmets that are distributed. This year's Lawrence Helmet Fair is scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at Free State High School, 4700 Overland Drive.
The program has distributed about 7,000 helmets to local youngsters 12 and under. The helmets are free, as is the advice that comes with them. Saturday's event will include bicycle-safety checks, helmet-fitting stations and an educational booth.
Hopefully the helmet program will be the start of a lifelong habit for the youngsters who participate. The habit may even carry over for those who choose to operate motorcycles when they get a little older. Too many adults who didn't grow up wearing helmets think they can do without them when riding either a bicycle or motorcycle. But the younger generation should be smarter. With the helmet giveaway program, there's no excuse not to be safe.
The evidence is clear that wearing a helmet vastly increases the safety of bicyclists of all ages. Rob Kort, an emergency worker who launched the helmet fair noted in Tuesday's Journal-World that 85 percent of head injuries to young bicyclists can be prevented when helmets are worn. Broken bones, he noted, would mend, but head injuries could have much harsher consequences, including permanent disability or death.
It's a pretty strong recommendation for strapping on a helmet at any age. The community owes its thanks to those who get children off to a safe start by giving them a helmet and making them take their safety seriously.