Safe Routes Scoop
Getting Kids to Wear Helmets

by organizing a change drive to purchase bicycle helmets. Called “It Just Makes CENTS,” the drive collected spare change that would allow the purchase of helmets to supply the local traffic safety officer. Beth Degen-Kummer, head of the Borough Council’s Safe Streets to School Commission, reported that the change drive was a success. “I am happy to say that our elementary school collected $400. We are working with helmet providers to find the best deal so as to obtain as many helmets as possible.” Following the success of both Bicycle Safety Day and the “It Just Makes CENTS” change drive, Degen-Kummer said that the community looks forward to expanding their programs and keeping bicycle safety a local priority into the future.

 

Think Positive
Like the Point Pleasant Police Department, the Brain Injury Association of New Jersey seeks a better way to teach the community about the importance of bicycle helmets.  Through the creation of their “Think Positive” tool kit, the Association is able to offer a step-by-step manual that assists police officers in developing, implementing, and maintaining incentive programs that reinforce safe behavior—specifically, proper helmet use by children and adolescents on bicycles, skateboards, scooters, and skates. The “Think Positive” approach involves officers handing out positive tickets to reward children and

adolescents who are observed wearing their helmets. Each of the positive tickets includes information on brain injury and helmet safety as well as a reward, such as a coupon for a free slice of pizza, ice cream, discount on a movie, or similar incentive. These incentives are provided by local businesses who have agreed to become partners in the local “Think Positive” effort.

 

The “Think Positive” program fosters safe and responsible behavior by encouraging kids to “get caught” wearing their helmet. By working with the media to promote the program, the BIA is able to make children throughout the entire community aware of the importance of wearing a helmet and the potential of receiving a prize if they are seen doing so. When children in the community are rewarded, the message continues to spread as they tell their story to their friends, encouraging them to wear their helmets so they can be rewarded too. The message doesn’t stop with the children. Even though adults are not required by law to wear a helmet, the information included with the positive tickets received by their children alerts parents to the dangers of brain injury and urges them to be a role model by wearing a helmet themselves when engaged in wheeled activities. The “Think Positive” program targets the entire community, and strengthens it by building positive relationships between youth and police officers.

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