University receives grant to promote safety to children, students

The St. Mary’s University Student Health Center and Office of Residence Life want to help ensure the well-being of children and students by giving away bicycle helmets.

Through a grant from the Texas Medical Association and the Texas Academy of Family Practice, the “Rattlers Have Heart” organization will distribute and properly size 150 helmets to children at Boo Bash on Tuesday, Oct. 28, from 6-9 p.m.

Boo Bash is an evening for local children and their families to trick-or-treat on campus and participate in other Halloween festivities. The 27th annual event, for children age 14 and under with adult supervision, will be held on the Flex Field of the Park at St. Mary’s.

“I’m excited to properly fit our neighborhood children with bicycle helmets at the annual Boo Bash! First the helmet, then ask Santa for the bicycle … that’s sending a great message,” said Sandra Vasquez, M.D., a 25-year TAFP member and supporter of Hard Hats for Little Heads.

The giveaway is part of a statewide effort, Hard Hats for Little Heads, launched by the TMA in 1994. The program promotes fun exercise and teaches parents and children about the importance of wearing a helmet.

St. Mary’s also will distribute 100 adult bike helmets to students on Saturday, Oct. 25, from 4-6 p.m. in front of Founders Hall.

“We hope to encourage students to be safe when doing activities such as cycling and skating,” said Charity Bowen-Miller, Assistant Director of Residence Services. “I often see students riding around campus without a helmet and hope that this program will help change that. We want to make sure our students know that wearing a helmet isn’t just for children, but for everyone.”

Since the program began, Hard Hats for Little Heads has given away more than 125,000 helmets to Texas children. The program is made possible through a grant from TMA Foundation thanks to top donors – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, Prudential and two anonymous foundations – and gifts from physicians and their families.

On average, 250 children in the United States under the age of 14 die each year because of a bicycle crash. An additional 300,000 children visit emergency rooms because of severe head injuries. Many of these accidents could have been prevented if the children had worn bicycle helmets. A helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent, yet less than half of cyclists wear one when they ride.

For more information on the giveaway, please email the Office of Residence Life or call 210-436-3714.

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