The COVID-19 pandemic has forced physicians to adapt to unexpected circumstances, and the Texas Medical Association’s Hard Hats for Little Heads program is no exception.
Although the bicycle helmet giveaway program will pause in early 2021 because of the pandemic, TMA’s remaining helmet inventory is available for purchase through the end of December for use at “safe” giveaways in the new year, such as during well-checks.
Last year, the Hogg Clinic in Houston gave helmets to 15 children. The giveaway was one of nine at Memorial Hermann’s in-school health clinics throughout the Houston area during August and September.
Hogg Clinic, which serves children 3 to 18 years old, knew families were struggling because of the pandemic. When the opportunity to give helmets presented itself, the staff decided to see if the children in these families needed helmets, nurse practitioner and clinic manager Colleen Kimball said.
“As we called the families, we found out none of the children had wheels of any kind,” Ms. Kimball said. “We couldn’t see the value of giving helmet to kids who had no reason for them. Those helmets needed wheels to go with them!”
All it took was an announcement in a church bulletin and on the Nextdoor app for the wheels to start rolling in. Within a month, the clinic had 32 bikes and 12 scooters, Ms. Kimball said. Recycled Cycles of Texas, a nonprofit organization that gives refurbished bikes to kids, surprised the clinic with 17 of those bikes.
Steven Alley, MD, a pediatrician at the clinic, was able to get helmets through the Texas Pediatric Society (TPS), which collaborates with TMA on the Hard Hats program. TPS provides up to 25 helmets for its members, and TMA matches with 25 helmets.
Dr. Alley fitted helmets on the children at the event, with families scheduled in 15-minute time slots. “We educated the children and shaped the way they see bike safety.”
Once the kids were fitted for their helmets, they were fitted for wheels. Ms. Kimball said some of the kids had never ridden a bike, and clinic staff and parents decided to teach them.
“There was a tear-jerker moment where several kids were riding in circles on the basketball court just laughing,” she said.
Any TMA physician, or TMA Alliance or medical student chapter can purchase helmets for a giveaway. When you do so, TMA boosts your giving power with a match of helmets (equal match up to 50). Helmets cost $7.85 each (including shipping).
The Texas College of Emergency Physicians provides the same benefit to its members as TPS does, and the Texas Academy of Family Physicians (TAFP) provides helmets for any family physician to host a giveaway.
TMA’s Council on Health Promotion, which oversees Hard Hats, will review the climate for hosting larger giveaway events at its May 2021 meeting to decide whether to put the program back into full operation.
To order helmets now for use early in the new year, email Tammy Wishard, TMA outreach coordinator, at call her at 512-370-1470.
Hard Hats for Little Heads is supported in 2020 with a grant from the TMA Foundation.