By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Thomas Street Elementary School second-grader Harmony Crump danced in the school’s hallway on Tuesday afternoon after being given a new red bicycle helmet.
“I loved it, and I can’t wait to put it on when I get home, because I love to ride my bike,” the 8-year old said.
The Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services in partnership with the John Paul Frerer Foundation is providing free bike helmets to all kindergarten- to second-grade students in Tupelo this week. Representatives visited Thomas Street and Joyner schools on Tuesday and will go to Parkway, Carver and Lawhon schools today. By the end of the day, they will have distributed about 1,750 helmets with the help of volunteers from the Healthy Tupelo Task Force.
“Wearing a helmet is a habit, and younger students will be more open to that,” said Liria Frerer. “We want to start early.”
The foundation honors the memory of Liria’s son, who was killed in an accident while riding a bicycle in August 2009. It promotes bicycle safety and provides helmets to children.
For this event, it partnered with the MDRS, which uses money from a trust fund of fees from DUI and vehicle moving violations to provide bike helmets to elementary students throughout the state.
Allison Lowther, of MDRS, said bike falls are the No. 2 cause of brain injuries in Mississippi, behind only motor vehicle accidents.
“We’re trying to prevent brain injuries,” she said.
Lowther gave a presentation to the Thomas Street students about bike safety and the danger of not wearing a helmet. The students then traveled through the hallway where the task force volunteers helped them find the helmet that fit best.
Harmony said Tuesday’s event came at the perfect time for her. She had a bike helmet but recently lost it.
“We need to wear our helmets so we can still ride our bike and so we won’t get brain damage,” she said.