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Elementary students receive safety helmets

Children eagerly lined up Thursday to receive a free helmet from the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation services. The department visited Mamie Martin and the Kids R Us Learning Center.

Alderman-at-Large Karen Sullivan and Ward 6 Alderwoman Shelley Harrigill attended to help fit 375 children ages 3-5 with helmets. Harrigill said she wanted to help out because Mamie Martin and Kids R Us are both located in her ward.

The provided helmets can be used for any activity, and there was also an educational component to the day.

“Your brain is the boss of your body, and you never want to hurt it,” MDRS Representative Allison Lowther during one such presentation last year. “If you fall and have your helmet on, you’ll protect your brain.”

“The representatives from the rehabilitation center, they did a great presentation and engaged the children in why you should wear a helmet,” Sullivan said. “They were really responsive.”

Money for the program comes from the Traumatic Brain Injury/Spinal Cord Injury Trust Fund, set up by the state in 1996.

Money from the fun primarily goes to providing services directly to MDRS clients with those injuries, but some of it is also used for awareness and prevention programs. Money for the fund is provided from DUI fines and fines from other moving violations.

Since it began distributing helmets in 2010, MDRS has given away more than 175,000 helmets to students around the state.

Sullivan said she learned about the program at a conference and wanted to help out. She still has about 40 helmets available for any local groups of young children who might need them.

“If I don’t distribute them myself with people contacting me, then I will take them to the police station and let them (distribute them),” Sullivan said. “If they see somebody out riding without a helmet, they could offer to give them a helmet.”

In 2013, the Brookhaven Board of Aldermen passed a helmet ordinance applying to children up to age 16. Sullivan urged parents to make sure their children play safe.

“(The ordinance) includes tricycles, bicycles, skateboards, hover boards and whatever else you want to call anything they ride that’s on wheels,” Sullivan said. “It’s not for punishment — it’s for their protection.”

To inquire about the remaining helmets, contact Sullivan at 601-835-6042.