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05/18/2005 9:27 AM - Partnership Kicks Off with Bike Rodeo this Saturday

– The Grand Rapids Griffins’ “Put A Lid On It” (PALOI) helmet safety program, presented by DeVos Children’s Hospital, will launch its summer 2005 campaign with a kickoff this Saturday, May 21.

This event will be held in conjunction with a bike rodeo sponsored by Greater Grand Rapids Safe Kids from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Coit Creative Arts Academy (617 Coit NE). All kids are invited to bring their bikes, helmets and parents for two hours of fun and safety, featuring a bicycle obstacle course, bike registration and repair, and free refreshments.

A limited number of helmets will be available, and Griff, the Griffins’ mascot, will be on hand to meet kids and help distribute free PALOI posters and T-shirts.

The PALOI program was founded by the Griffins last summer to promote helmet safety to elementary and middle school children throughout West Michigan, with an ultimate goal of reducing the occurrence and severity of head injuries sustained during wheeled sports and other outdoor activities.

Thanks to the involvement of DeVos Children’s Hospital and several supporting sponsors, the Griffins hope to broaden the reach of the PALOI program this summer to include more children in Kent County and expand efforts into Ottawa, Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Montcalm and Newaygo counties.

“DeVos Children’s Hospital provides care to injured children every day, and we’re pleased that we can partner with the Griffins to help children avoid injuries by wearing a helmet,” said Lynne Yontz, DeVos Children’s Hospital director of community relations and marketing. DeVos Children’s Hospital is the lead agency for the Greater Grand Rapids and Lakeshore Safe Kids Coalitions, which are participating in the PALOI partnership.

The PALOI program utilizes a three-tiered approach involving prevention, education and reinforcement:

Prevention – The Griffins will partner with the local Safe Kids coalitions to provide up to 600 bike helmets, which will be distributed to underprivileged children through bike rodeos and other Safe Kids programs and events. Last summer, PALOI funds underwrote the distribution of approximately 125 helmets by Safe Kids.

Education – Six thousand PALOI posters will be distributed throughout Grand Rapids and a seven-county region. The posters feature Griffins players Blake Sloan and Joey MacDonald among photos of seven adults who wear helmets in the course of their occupations, including personnel from the Grand Rapids police and fire departments, the United States Coast Guard, West Michigan Air Care and Rockford Construction. Also included are photos of five children wearing helmets while enjoying activities such as bicycling, skateboarding, in-line skating, scooter riding, and downhill skiing.

Through partnerships with the Grand Rapids Public Schools, Grand Rapids Christian Schools and the Kent Intermediate School District, these posters will be displayed in elementary and middle school classrooms and distributed to students throughout the community.

In addition, kids and parents will be able to pick up free copies of the poster at all branches of the Grand Rapids Public Library, the Kent District Library and the Greater Grand Rapids YMCA, as well as Chicago Drive & Kentwood Cycling & Fitness and numerous sporting goods stores, recreation centers, ice rinks and area businesses.

Reinforcement – The PALOI posters invite kids to visit to sign a pledge to always wear their helmet, or to submit a photo of them wearing their helmet. Children age 17 or younger who do either (with parental permission) will be rewarded with a voucher for two free tickets to a 2005-06 Griffins game, and they’ll be registered for a drawing to win a new bike that will be given away in September.

In addition, police offers in various communities, including Grand Rapids, Kentwood and Grandville, will coordinate 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 through the ticketing program this summer.

According to results of a survey commissioned by the National Safe Kids Campaign, only 41 percent of children age 5-14 wear helmets while bicycling. In addition, the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute reports that half of the 800 bicyclists who die as a result of accidents each year in the United States are children under 15 years old.

“Simply by wearing a helmet, the risk of brain injury can be reduced by 88 percent,” said Randy Cleves, director of media relations for the Griffins and founder of the PALOI program. “Through the guidance of their parents and the example of community role models, we want to encourage kids to wear their helmets every time.”

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 were made possible in part by the contributions of supporting PALOI sponsors, including the Brain Injury Association of Michigan, Centennial Securities, Chicago Drive Cycling & Fitness, Fuel Systems, and Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital.

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