It’s vital that children understand the importance of wearing a helmet when riding a bicycle, Barrie-area litigator Steve Rastin says at the kickoff of the Helmet on Kids program.
With the arrival of good weather Rastin, managing partner with Rastin Trial Lawyers, has been visiting the Simcoe County District School Board and the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic School Board, accompanied by the Barrie Police Service and the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit to encourage helmet use.
“We purchase approximately 550 helmets a year, head out in the warmer weather, and distribute them to both school boards, and now we are also partnering with the two First Nations school boards in Simcoe County,” Rastin says. “We also give some helmets to the local police service boards for bike rodeos and things like that.”
“We’re a law firm that handles personal injury cases, and we’re still seeing kids come in having been injured in an accident, and they were not wearing helmets,” Rastin tells the newspaper. “In some cases, the families can’t afford the helmet, and that’s a sad situation, for sure. We try to assist when and where we can.”
The Helmets on Kids campaign was initiated in the London area in 2002 as a joint project by members of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association and the Brain Injury Association of London and Region, he says. The program has since expanded across the province and has handed out more than 40,000 helmets to children in need.
Rastin says that along with giving out helmets to Grade 3 students, the presentation includes fun exercises.
“We have a nurse who does a great presentation with a brain made out of Jell-O. The officers make the helmet demonstrations fun with humour, but the whole thing always provides lots of insight and information,” Rastin says. “We find that kids at the elementary school level really do listen and hear the negative impact of not wearing a helmet, and they get on their parents to get one for them.”
He says parents should also realize there are penalties if their children aged 16 and under don’t have a helmet — the law states if young riders are caught not wearing one, the parents can be charged.
Rastin says that he would like to see the law changed to force those over the age of 16 to wear helmets as well.
“We know exactly what can happen if you smack your head on the ground or somewhere else, yet there is no law for adults,” says Rastin. “It boggles my mind.”