Portland Elementary students get surprise gifts to help keep them safe, active this summer

Published on June 1, 2015

Monday, June 1, all 303 students at Portland Elementary School received a surprise gift of a new bike helmet from the Brain Injury Alliance of Kentucky to help keep them safe as they start their summer activities.

The gift of the helmets was made possible by an anonymous donor at the Brain Injury Alliance’s Brain Ball fundraiser on Nov. 21, 2014. The decision was made to donate the new helmets to the students of Portland Elementary because of need, as 98 percent of the school’s students are eligible to receive free lunch under federal family income guidelines. With school ending June 5, the students will be able to enjoy summer activities such as riding a bike, skateboard or scooter or roller skating safely with their new helmets.  

In addition to the helmets, students were entered in a drawing for free bikes to take home, donated by community members and Portland Elementary staff.

“The need to wear a helmet when participating in these types of activities can’t be stressed enough,” said Chell Austin, executive director of the Brain Injury Alliance. “Brain injuries can happen in an instant, and they can be debilitating for those who suffer from them, often for life. But brain injuries are preventable, and wearing a helmet is one of the easiest and most important things to do to keep them from happening. If these helmets help prevent one child from suffering an injury, then we have done our job.”

The Brain Injury Alliance is a non-profit whose mission is to serve Kentucky residents whose lives have been affected by a brain injury with advocacy, service and support, as well as educate the public about brain injuries and prevention.

Along with their new helmet, each student received a gift bag from UofL Physicians, KentuckyOne Health and the Brain Injury Alliance with stickers to personalize their helmet and make it fun to wear, a squishable ball in the shape of a brain, and information for their parents on preventing brain injuries and other health matters. Also included in the bag was a jump rope and other small gifts. 

Students gathered in the gym for the surprise presentation and giveaway.  Dr. Warren Boling, chair of the Department of Neurosurgery for University of Louisville Physicians and chief of Neurosurgery for UofL Hospital, Dr. Darryl Kaelin, chief of the division of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation for UofL Physicians and medical director of Frazier Rehab Institute, and Dr. Vinay Puri, chief of child neurology for UofL Physicians and chief neurologist at Kosair Children’s Hospital, along with Alliance volunteers, talked with the students about why it is important to wear a helmet when participating in certain activities like riding a bike, then hand out the helmets. Alliance volunteers adjusted the helmets and explained to the students how to wear them properly. 

“Children often don’t think about injuries, and some parents may not be overly concerned about helmet use, but as a doctor, I’ve seen the effects of head injuries first-hand. We want to encourage all children and adults to wear a helmet, and to make sure it’s properly fitted,” said Dr. Boling.

The helmets were ordered specifically for each child.

“We are so thankful for this generous gift of new bike helmets for each of our students,” said Angela Hosch, principal of Portland Elementary. “Many of our students’ parents may not have the means to get them a helmet, or to take them to get one and have it properly fitted. In addition to keeping our students safe, we hope this will encourage them to take up healthy outdoor activities over the summer.”

Photos from the event can be found on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/133728225@N05/sets/72157653437464380 

About the Brain Injury Alliance of Kentucky

The Brain Injury Alliance of Kentucky (BIAK), a 501(c)(3) non-profit agency, began as an outgrowth of a Lexington area support group in the early 1980s. Family members, medical staff and others felt the need to expand the services and support to reach statewide. The state office was moved to Louisville and incorporated in 1986.  BIAK seeks to share its philosophy, experience and skills with survivors, family members, students, caregivers, administrators, health professionals, legislators, the lay community and all those who desire to make a difference in the life of individuals with brain injuries and their families. For more information, visit www.biak.us.

About University of Louisville Physicians

University of Louisville Physicians is the largest multispecialty physician practice in the Louisville region, with nearly 600 doctors in more than 78 specialties and subspecialties, including primary care. Our doctors are the professors and researchers of the University of Louisville School of Medicine, teaching tomorrow’s physicians and leading research into medical advancements. For more information, visit www.uoflphysicians.com.

About KentuckyOne Health

KentuckyOne Health, the largest and most comprehensive health system in the Commonwealth, has more than 200 locations, including hospitals, physician groups, clinics, primary care centers, specialty institutes and home health agencies in Kentucky and southern Indiana. KentuckyOne Health is dedicated to bringing wellness, healing and hope to all, including the underserved.  The system is made up of the former Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare and Saint Joseph Health System, along with the University of Louisville Hospital and James Graham Brown Cancer Center. KentuckyOne Health is proud of and strengthened by its Catholic, Jewish and academic heritages. For more information, visit www.kentuckyonehealth.org.