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06/12/2008 8:29 AM -
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – One hundred twenty local children will receive a new bike helmet at no cost this Saturday, June 14 from 1-3 p.m., when the Grand Rapids Griffins and Safe Kids Greater Grand Rapids host “Lids at the Library.”

This inaugural event will take place simultaneously at four libraries: the Madison Square (1201 Madison SE, Grand Rapids) and Van Belkum (1563 Plainfield NE, Grand Rapids) branches of the Grand Rapids Public Library, and the Gaines Township (421 68th St. SE, Grand Rapids) and Wyoming (3350 Michael Ave. SW, Wyoming) branches of the Kent District Library.

Volunteers from Safe Kids, the Griffins, Garan Lucow Miller P.C., and Priority Health will be on hand to properly fit these free helmets for 30 kids at each location. Helmets for kids ages 1-12 will be distributed at each branch (subject to availability), and a parent or legal guardian must be present for a child to receive a helmet. Griff, the Griffins’ mascot, will visit several of the libraries, and a variety of information from Safe Kids will be available for pickup, along with the Griffins’ new 2008 “Put A Lid On It!” poster.

“Lids at the Library” represents the kickoff of the fifth summer of the Griffins’ award-winning “Put A Lid On It!” (PALOI) helmet safety program, which is presented by Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. Since the program’s founding in 2004, the Griffins have worked with dozens of local organizations – including Safe Kids, police departments, pediatricians, schools, libraries, bike shops and sporting goods stores – to encourage helmet usage during wheeled sports, prevent head injuries and reward kids who wear their helmets.

PALOI, which earned the Brain Injury Association of Michigan’s 2007 prevention award, targets elementary and middle school students in a seven-county region of West Michigan. The program utilizes a three-tiered approach involving prevention, education and reinforcement.

– The Griffins provide the two local Safe Kids coalitions (Greater Grand Rapids and Lakeshore) with funds to purchase hundreds of bike helmets, which are distributed to needy children through bike rodeos and other Safe Kids programs and events. Over the last three years, the Griffins have provided Safe Kids with $9,000 in grants for the purchase of more than 900 helmets.

Education – Eight thousand PALOI posters are being distributed throughout Grand Rapids and the seven-county region. Through partnerships with the Kent and Ottawa Area intermediate school districts, among others, these posters will be displayed in more than 400 elementary and middle schools and distributed to students throughout the community in August.

In addition, kids and parents will be able to pick up free copies of the poster at dozens of libraries throughout the area, including all eight Grand Rapids Public Library branches and all 18 Kent District Library branches, as well as bike shops, sporting goods stores, recreation centers, ice rinks and other area businesses.

– The PALOI posters invite kids to visit, where they can sign a pledge to always wear their helmet. Children age 17 or younger who do so (with parental permission) will be rewarded with a voucher for two free tickets to a 2008-09 Griffins game, and they’ll be registered for a drawing to win a new bike.

In addition, police officers in numerous communities throughout Kent and Ottawa counties – including East Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids, Grandville, Holland, Kentwood, Rockford, Sparta, Walker, Wyoming and Zeeland – are participating in a ticketing program to reward helmet usage. While on patrol or during neighborhood festivals, parades and other events, officers will “pull over” kids who are wearing their helmets and give them a ticket voucher. A minimum of 800 vouchers will be distributed this summer through the ticketing program, which is also supported by the Kent County and Ottawa County sheriff departments.

According to the National Safe Kids Campaign, only 20 percent of children wear helmets while bicycling, and kids ages 5-14 are at the highest risk for injury and are seen most often in emergency rooms. In addition, the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute reports that half of the 800 bicyclists in the United States who die each year as a result of accidents are children under 15 years old. Without proper protection, a fall from as little as two feet can result in a skull fracture or brain injury. Simply by wearing a helmet, the risk of brain injury can be reduced by nearly 90 percent.

Information for parents, including tips for choosing a helmet and getting children to wear it, is available at

The helmet purchase, poster campaign and ticket program are made possible in part by the contributions of supporting PALOI sponsors, including Centennial Securities, Comcast, Dean Foods, Garan Lucow Miller P.C., and Priority Health.

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