Since 1993, our bike helmet program has supplied thousands of bike helmets to underserved children in the Fairview Lakes service area, including more than 400 helmets in 2015. This year, with a grant from Fairview Foundation’s Greatest Need Fund, children near Fairview Northland Medical Center will also have access to this needed safety equipment.
“Head injuries are largely preventable with the proper headwear,” says Kathy Bystrom, north region community health manager. “We want to ensure that every child in the communities we serve has a helmet on their head—especially those who can’t afford them.”
The program’s success is due, in part, to partnerships with local law enforcement, school officials and civic leaders.
Fairview staff volunteer to distribute the CPSC-certified helmets at bike rodeo and safety camp events conducted by schools or local law enforcement. Children and parents get bicycle safety skills, a bike inspection and a properly fitting bike helmet, sometimes with a story from a Fairview employee of how a bike helmet saved them. It’s made a difference in these communities that our partners can see.
“I started policing in Lindstrom in 1990, and at that time helmet use was almost non-existent,” says Lakes Area Police Chief Kevin Stenson. “Since that time, through efforts of local police departments conducting bicycle safety rodeos and the Bike Helmet Program conducted by Fairview Health Services, most of our young riders are now wearing helmets.”
“Fairview has prioritized the children’s safety and even donated the helmets to those campers that receive a camp scholarship because they come from a low-income household,” says Officer Ashley LaValle of the Forest Lake Police Department. “We are proud to work with Fairview year after year.”
We also distribute individual helmets on an as-needed basis through law enforcement, school staff or local public health departments who see children without them.
The success of the program in the Fairview Lakes service area, and the consistent need to ensure child safety, has led to an expansion into the Fairview Northland region.
“The programs in the Northland community have been initiated by local law enforcement at a small scale, but they haven’t been sustainable,” says Kathy. “With the assistance of the grant from Fairview Foundation, we’re striving to create a sustainable program as successful as the one at Lakes has been. We all have a vested interest in supporting the safety of children.”
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