Ontario Helping Kids Play Safe

    McGuinty Government Provides Helmets To Over Ten Thousand Kids In Need

    TORONTO, July 23 /CNW/ -


    More than ten thousand low-income kids will now be able to play safe when
participating in sport and recreation activities requiring helmets, including:
biking, rollerblading and skateboarding.
    As part of Ontario's Injury Prevention Strategy, an investment of
$500,000 is encouraging the use of helmets among children and youth, and
providing helmets to kids in Ontario who could not otherwise afford them.
Today's announcement is part of a larger $1.2 million investment, through
which the Ministry of Health Promotion has partnered with the ThinkFirst
Foundation of Canada to deliver the Ontario Safe Sport Helmet Initiative.
    Over the next few months ThinkFirst in collaboration with participating
Public Health Units and local community partners across Ontario will be
distributing $25 helmet coupons that will go towards the purchase of sport
helmets for kids in low-income communities, so that more kids will have equal
access to participate safely in the sports that require helmets.
    Other components of this initiative include the youth-oriented "Buckle
Your Bucket" public education campaign to enhance helmet safety awareness, and
correct use and fitting of helmets; as well as a distribution of
activity-specific helmets to community and recreation organizations for
ongoing use in their programs.


    "Our Government is committed to reducing the frequency, severity and
impact of injuries in Ontario," said Health Promotion Minister Margarett Best
(http://www.mhp.gov.on.ca/english/margarettbest.asp). "Providing coupons for
low-income kids to access helmets ensures that all Ontarians have the
opportunity to participate safely in sport and recreational activities."

    "Skateboarding, cycling and rollerblading are excellent summer activities
for children and youth - to keep them healthy and make them fit. However,
activities like these carry some risks, especially the risk of a head injury,"
said Dr. Charles H. Tator, Founder & Past President, ThinkFirst. "ThinkFirst
teaches kids to use their brain to protect themselves, and wearing a helmet is
one of the proven ways to protect that brain."

    "This program is helping public health units across Ontario reduce
barriers to safe physical activity by providing helmets to kids who most need
them", said Dr. David McKeown, Medical Officer of Health for the City of
Toronto. "It is also helping us to educate kids and parents about the
importance of using the right safety gear when involved in sport and
recreation activities."


    -   Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for children
        and youth in Canada.
    -   Approximately 5,500 helmets have already been distributed through
        this initiative to 187 community organizations across Ontario for
        ongoing use in their sport and recreation programs.
    -   Children under the age of 15 have the highest injury and death rates
        associated with cycling activities.
    -   An e-viral campaign will be deployed to help spread the word to
        "Buckle Your Bucket" to all youth across Ontario via e-mail and other
        web applications.


    -   The Ministry of Health Promotion
        (http://www.mhp.gov.on.ca/english/default.asp) is delivering the
        Ontario Safe Sport Helmet Initiative in partnership with the
        ThinkFirst Foundation of Canada

    -   The Injury Prevention Strategy
        represents a government-wide coordinated approach to addressing
        injury prevention - the first of its kind in Ontario.

                                                      Disponible en français

For further information:

For further information: Andrew Campbell, Minister's Office, (416)
326-8503; Gary Wheeler, Communications, (416) 326-4806

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