The Eastern Carolina Injury Prevention Program (ECIPP) at ECU Health Medical Center partnered with volunteers from Greenville Police Department, ECU Health Police Department, Pitt County Sheriff’s Office, ECU Police Department, Pitt County Schools and nurses at ECU Health to fit 100 fourth and fifth graders at South Greenville Elementary School with bicycle helmets to encourage safe biking. Funding for the helmets was provided by Children’s Miracle Network and the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

“It is incredibly important for parents to ensure their children know how to safely ride their bikes including wearing a helmet, bright colors and reflectors, riding on the sidewalk or in the same direction as traffic and being aware of their surroundings,” said Ellen Walston, injury prevention coordinator, ECIPP, ECU Health. “Wearing a helmet is the best way to reduce head injuries, and we are incredibly grateful to our community partners including law enforcement officers and physical education teachers that are willing to teach bike safety to their students.”

A local law enforcement officer helps a student get fitted for a bike helmet during a recent community event.

According to Safe Kids, properly fitted helmets can reduce the risk of head injuries by at least 45 percent, yet less than half of children 14 and under usually wear a bike helmet. In 2020, there were 136,753 emergency department visits from children with bicycle-related injuries across the country. ECIPP aims to reduce the number of children harmed in eastern North Carolina and beyond by encouraging safe bicycling practices and ensuring local children have access to helmets. These partnerships not only facilitate the distribution of helmets but also enable law enforcement officers to engage directly with children, emphasizing the importance of wearing helmets and adhering to traffic regulations while biking.

“While ECIPP may provide the logistical and often the boots-on-the-ground operations, none of our work would be possible without the strong partnerships that we have with our schools, law enforcement and many others throughout the region,” said Sue Anne Pilgreen, manager, ECIPP, ECU Health.