More than 300 students at Waverly Park Elementary School in Fort Worth received some early holiday cheer in late November with a free bicycle helmet from the Texas College of Emergency Physicians (TCEP) in conjunction with TMA’s Hard Hats for Little Heads program.
The helmet giveaway for first- through third-graders kicked off TCEP’s collaboration with Hard Hats to allow emergency physicians across Texas to host a helmet giveaway with TCEP support. TCEP provides 25 helmets for its members, and TMA matches that, so TCEP members can get 50 helmets to give away at no cost.
The Nov. 20 event, originally planned for March during TCEP’s annual meeting, was delayed because of COVID-19. After months of online schooling and concerns about COVID-19 transmission, TCEP leadership and the school’s principal agreed the “the show would go on,” albeit virtually.
Three TCEP members from the greater Fort Worth area – A.J. Kirk, MD; Mackenzie Brown, MD; and Hemant Vankawala, MD – coordinated the virtual, hands-off helmet distribution. The physicians were on hand Nov. 20 to allocate helmets by size, which teachers gave to students along with TMA’s guide to properly fitting a helmet.
"The opportunity to teach these young Texans about the importance of wearing a helmet, and giving them one, was so rewarding – and might even save a life,” said Lewisville emergency physician Dr. Vankawala, TCEP immediate past president.
TCEP provided funding to purchase more than 1,200 helmets for its members to give away in 2020. More than 900 helmets still are available.
TCEP member Evan Meyer, MD, of Wichita Falls, has been handing out helmets in his community for several years.
“Working in an emergency department gives me a unique perspective on head trauma,” Dr. Meyer said, “and being able to work with children to prevent this trauma is particularly rewarding.”
Dr. Meyer gives helmets to children who arrive in the emergency department with injuries, and to students in underserved schools. He takes the time to demonstrate proper helmet fit to his patients, schoolchildren, and teachers.
Dr. Meyer said this year has presented challenges in giving helmets, but doing so remains important.
“Trauma does not stop because of COVID, and children will continue to ride bicycles,” he said. “Reaching children to prevent injuries is important.”
TCEP emergency physician members and other physicians can request helmets to distribute in 2021 through the end of December. The Hard Hats program will go on hiatus because of COVID-19 during the first half of the new year. TMA’s Council on Health Promotion, which oversees Hard Hats, will review the climate for hosting in-person giveaways at its May 2021 meeting to decide whether to put the program back into full operation.
If you would like to order helmets, contact Tammy Wishard, TMA outreach coordinator, at (512) 370-1470 or via email, preferably by Dec. 21. TCEP members can contact Beth Brooks via email.
Hard Hats for Little Heads is supported in 2020 with a grant from the TMA Foundation.