Children who ride their bikes in Thornton without helmets just may miss out on some free ice cream.
Culvers has donated 2,000 coupons for free ice cream and Thornton police and fire departments will be handing those out over the summer to children they see wearing their helmets.
“This program rewards our youth for encouraging and promoting safe bicycling habits,” said police officer Matt Barnes. “Wearing a helmet can help reduce a substantial portion of bicycle-related fatalities and injuries among our children. With children most learning occurs through “modeling”, in essence, watching another perform a behavior (wearing a bicycle helmet) and then receiving a positive reinforcement, in this case ice cream, for doing it. We hope this leads children to a lifestyle of developing safe and healthy habits.”
There’s another positive benefit to having police and fire hand out the coupons, said Jennifer Alderfer, CEO of North Suburban Medical Center. “We really hope that kids, if approached by police or EMS providers in uniform, will see them as we do, as public servants out there on the streets wanting to keep them safe, and not as something that might be intimidating or scary,” she said.
The coupon giveaway is part of the Center’s helmet safety campaign, which it launched May 18 during Thorntonfest. With the help of a large donation by Horizons North Credit Union, staff was able to give out 130 children’s helmets.
The staff at North Suburban feels it’s not just their job to treat injuries but to educate people on how to prevent those injuries, Alderfer said.
At Thorntonfest, before the children were fitted with their free helmet, they learned from a nurse how fragile their brains were and participated in exercises that demonstrated how hard it is to function after a brain injury.
“We really shared with them that protecting your head and the brain is worthwhile,” Alderfer said. “We wanted this to be more than just about receiving a free bike helmet - but now that the kids in our community have helmets, we want them to remember how important it is to wear them.”
Alderfer didn’t have any statistics on how many children visit North Suburban’s emergency rooms in Thornton with head injuries that could have been prevented by wearing a helmet. However, she said that the Center, 9191 Grant St., averages 140 ER visits daily, and that the Northeast ER, 12793 Holly St., averages 25 to 30, and about 25 percent of those are pediatric-related in nature.