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Promoting Bicyle Helmets

Participating in the community

Early this year we were approached by a volunteer with one of our neighborhood PTA groups about making bicycle helmets available for children at their elementary school. As would be expected with many volunteer group projects, they were reacting to an incident that had happened on the north side of our city and that had received much publicity.

An elementary school student was riding his bicycle one day, and was hit by a car. It appears that there is a degree of supposition in the following, but the reports given indicate that the physicians believe that it was not the car hitting the student that killed him, but it was his head striking the pavement that caused the internal injuries that were the cause of death.

There were a couple of news stories about the incident. Particularly, there was a very long and very touching story that told of how the various classmates were handling the death, and the tremendous sadness felt by the teacher. She was a young woman that had no children of her own, but she made a point to "adopt" each child in her class each year.

Here, on the far south side of our city, Mary Jo Berras, a volunteer with Bay Vista school approached us with a request. She and her husband, a local physician, were asking what price could we make bicycle helmets available for. Their PTA had decided that they had approximately $1,000. to spend as they wanted to subsidize the cost of helmets to the students.

They were thrilled to find that we found helmets from a manufacturer available for $11, helmets which retail for as much as $35. The PTA decided that they would ask each student to pay $7. per helmet and they would cover the balance. The one condition that we gave them, was that if their order was for less than 40 helmets, they would incur the freight charges from the manufacturer.

Imagine our surprise the next week as we drove by the school to see on their street sign, "Order your helmets today. Only $7. Over 90 helmets sold. Thanks Skyway Hardware". The next week the number changed to 150 helmets and when their drive ended, the number was 300.

As we placed the order for the helmets, we worked with the school for a bicycle rally on a Friday that the elementary school kids had off from school.

The community resource police officer, Dean Clark, arranged for the police department to set up a road course in the parking lot. On the day of the rally, the students would be put through the paces of testing their safety skills and bicycling abilities. But of course, not until they had picked up their helmet and had the helmet properly fitted. Of course, the helmet did have a sticker on it, noting our store name, address, and phone number. Our bicycle mechanic, Coach Mike Jacobs, a local high school teacher, took off a day from work to be a part of the program. With a form that he created, each bicycle was checked for any mechanical problems, which were duly noted on the form which was sent to the parents. The form detailed any needed service and the price that would be charged when the bicycle was returned to our store. If the repair was something that could be easily and quickly done, Coach Mike did it on the spot at no charge. He also brought along a case of front and rear reflectors for the bicycles which he gave away at no charge.

This was a fun project in which everyone came out ahead. As hoped, we did manage to get the store mentioned in a newspaper article, and we did receive recognition on the school sign and in their newsletter.

But, Mary Jo was soon back with us. After the word spread, and because she approached it as her special project, the program continued. We suggested that there be an expansion to get the parents to order helmets also. Surely, it is hard to explain to a child why them must wear the helmet, but Mom or Dad doesn't need one.

Lad 'n Lass preschool, Blessed Trinity's MOMS preschool, Childs Park Fundamental Elementary, Bay Point Elementary, and Lakeview Fundamental Elementary, all wanted to perform bicycle helmet programs. These schools did not underwrite the cost of the helmets, but sold them to their students at our $11 cost.

As the program grew, we went back to the helmet manufacturer and pleaded for additional help. We received a 3% discount which we have used to create a small fund to purchase helmets for any students financially unable to purchase their own helmets.

One of the more touching events was a visit from Officer Dean Clark, who informed us that he had been contacted by a representative of Shore Acres Elementary. This is the school that lost the student that inspired this program. They knew they were so far away from us, but would we at least tell them the name of a contact person at the helmet manufacturer so that they could attempt a helmet drive of their own. We immediately invited them to hold their helmet drive which we would gladly support.

By the time the school year was over, we had sold at our cost, 1,000 helmets. Of course, you can see the many benefits that a store would receive from such a program. Another came our way last week as a representative from Shore Acres Elementary contacted us about participating in a county wide program.

"Kool School" is a new program that is being implemented for the current school year. It is a guideline for a PTA and similar organizations of how they can help their community, their students, and their families. One of the requirements that a school must meet to be a "Kool School" is, that they must create a program to make helmets available to at least the students that ride their bicycles to school - and if the school is so inclined, to make the helmets available to all the students.

This type of event makes us a strong part of our community, and you distinguish your store from the chain stores.

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This article is copyrighted by Tom Shay and Profits Plus Solutions, who can be reached at: PO Box 1577, St. Petersburg, Fl. 33731. Phone 727-464-2182. It This article is copyrighted by Tom Shay and Profits Plus Solutions, who can be reached at: PO Box 1577, St. Petersburg, Fl. 33731. Phone 727-464-2182. It may be printed for an individual to read, but not duplicated or distributed without expressed written consent of the copyright owner.may be printed for an individual to read, but not duplicated or distributed without expressed written consent of the copyright owner.
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