(Train Your Brain helmets | Photo courtesy of The Center)
Over 2,000 local elementary students in the Bend-La Pine, Sisters, Crook County, Culver and Jefferson School Districts will be equipped to enjoy summer activities more safely thanks to a regional community partnership between The Center Foundation, First Interstate Bank, Summit Medical Group Oregon and BendBroadband. These local organizations have teamed up with the school districts to expand The Center Foundation’s Train Your Brain program, a two month-long initiative to educate every third grader in our region about brain injury prevention and the importance of helmet safety.
Starting April 10, representatives from The Center Foundation, Summit Medical Group Oregon, BendBroadband and First Interstate Bank will be presenting bike helmet safety demonstrations and giving away free helmets to third graders at each of the district’s 30 elementary schools. At least 1,200 students who are in need of a helmet will receive one. These helmets are free to the students, high-quality and just in time for popular summer activities such as bike riding and skateboarding.
“It’s well documented that brain injury among youth is recently on the rise,” said Sonja Donohue, executive director for The Center Foundation. “To help reverse this trend locally, The Center Foundation started Train Your Brain to educate and equip students in a fun, engaging program. We are grateful to the school districts for incorporating this important safety initiative across all local elementary schools, as well as First Interstate Bank, Summit Medical Group Oregon and BendBroadband for helping us reach our goal to provide free helmets to every local third grader who needs one.”
“First Interstate Bank prioritizes support for organizations that strengthen schools and promote student well-being,” said Bill Kuhn, Bend Market president for First Interstate Bank. “The Center Foundation has been doing excellent preventative work related to concussions and other head and spinal cord injuries among children. We are proud to partner with them, Summit Medical Group Oregon and BendBroadband to raise awareness of these important issues in an effort to help reduce the number of preventable brain injuries in our community.”
Each year, about 400,000 children under the age of 15 are treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms for bicycle-related injuries. An additional 300 children are killed. Bicyclists ages 5 through 14 have among the highest injury rates of all riders. Helmets provide the best protection against injury, whether a child is riding a bike, scooter, skateboard or using skates, and can reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by up to 88 percent.
“Brain injuries can be life-threatening and often preventable,” says Dr. Booker, a pediatrician at Summit Medical Group Oregon. “The Train Your Brain program is an excellent resource in preventing such injuries by relaying important safety information and supplying properly fitted helmets to kids. Together, we can prioritize our children’s safety while promoting healthy, active lifestyles.”
According to The Center Foundation, helmet use is highly recommended for all wheeled sports activities, regardless of the participant’s age. Proper helmet fit is also critical to minimize risk in an accident. For children, The Center Foundation advises purchasing a helmet only after the child has tried it on. Multi-sport helmets are also recommended if a child participates in numerous wheeled sports. During Train Your Brain events, students bring their current helmets to school for a safety evaluation and fitting by an expert.
“The Center Foundation is a vital and trusted organization in our community,” said Courtney Underhill, field market manager for BendBroadband. “Not only do the athletic trainers at The Center Foundation serve as an amazing support system for our young athletes who get injured, but they also teach injury prevention to our students in Central Oregon.”