Ames Community Gives Free Bike Helmets to Every Third Grader

AMES, Iowa  --  By the end of this week, every third grader in Ames should have a free and fitted bike helmet.

The organization Healthiest Ames is putting on the project. It’s in collaboration with the Ames Police Department, Skunk River Cycles, Ames Bicycle Coalition and it is funded by the Mary Greeley Foundation with a grant of $3,600.

“Skunk River Cycles in Ames has cooperated with us, they give us the cheapest price they possibly can, their cost. But Mary Greeley Foundation is funding the purchase of the helmets but it’s much less than it would be without the collaboration with Skunk River Cycles,” Healthiest Ames Board Member Ann Thompson said.

Through the bike safety program, students in elementary schools across Ames learn bike safety and hand signals with the school resource officer and ask questions about the basics of biking. Then the students will pick out their free helmet. Volunteers make sure to accurately measure and fit the helmets to each student.

“A lot of children, and adults have bike helmets but they don’t have any idea about how it’s supposed to fit or how they’re supposed to wear it on their head and it turns out if it doesn’t fit correctly or if you have it on the back of your head it’s useless it’s just like riding without a helmet,” Thompson said.

This is the third year of the Healthiest Ames bike safety program and they say the looks on the students' faces make the hours of volunteer work worthwhile.

“When we get volunteers we always say just come once and you’ll see because it’s fun, it’s important and it’s just so fun to see the kids so excited about the helmets. At one school at the end of the day we saw the kids getting on the bus with the new bike helmets on, which was pretty fun,” Thompson said.

Thompson said the program helps families in all kinds of financial situations.

“The Ames schools has a relatively high proportion of free and reduced lunch children and by giving it to everybody then there’s no differentiation. And then we also know, I mean there can be certainly children from wealthier families that don’t have properly fitting bike helmets and this way we know every third grader in Ames has a properly fitted helmet,” Thompson said.

The Healthiest Ames Bike Safety Program is not only about keeping kids safe while they ride bikes but also about encouraging exercise as we get closer to warmer weather.

They will give out more than a thousand helmets this week.