Strap & Snap
Strap & Snap is a lively, educational presentation that teaches children the importance of wearing bicycle helmets. The program was designed by Family Medicine residents to be presented in classrooms by resident or community physicians, and is endorsed by the Colorado Academy of Family Physicians.
The bicycle helmet message is an important one. Each year in the United States, bicycling-related injuries result in approximately 800 deaths, and 1.2 million visits to physicians. Children ages 5-14 years of age have the highest injury rates. Helmets prevent serious injuries, decreasing the risk of a brain injury by 88% and head injuries by 85%. Unfortunately, helmet use continues to be low among children, particularly in lower income neighborhoods.
The Strap & Snap program is designed for third graders. By third grade most children are riding a bike and are receptive to the message about preventing head injuries. They've heard that they should wear a helmet, and this program helps them understand why. In the Strap & Snap presentation they learn about the brain-what it looks like, what it feels like, and how it allows them to run, throw a ball, follow the story line in a movie and laugh at a joke. They get to see a Jello brain and learn that it feels a lot like the real thing. They put together a giant brain puzzle that shows how each area in the brain performs a different job, like balance and coordination, memory, emotion, and vision. And they play a spy game that illustrates for them how a person with a brain injury might perceive things-to give kids a sense of how it feels to struggle with simple tasks.
The presentation also illustrates the importance of a helmet in protecting the brain from injuries. A demonstration using an egg shows how a simple foam "helmet" prevents the egg from breaking when tossed around the classroom and ultimately dropped. The kids see the proper (and improper) way to wear a helmet, and they practice the tongue twister, "straight, strap, snug, snap." The tongue twister is a reminder of the proper way to wear a helmet:
- straight--the helmet should be straight and level with the ground
- strap--the straps should form a "V" around the ears
- snug--the helmet should be snug
- snap--the helmet should be snapped
At the end of the presentation, each child is given a pledge form stating that he or she agrees to wear their helmet when cycling, skateboarding, or rollerblading. The pledge is signed by both the child and their parent, and returned to their teacher for a special prize (such as a sticker, a coupon for a free ice cream cone, etc.) The pledge form encourages commitment and provides an opportunity for dialogue between the child and their parent around the topic of wearing helmets.
Each year, the Colorado State University Alumni Association helps provide funding for the helmets, and the Safe Kids Larimer County (970-495-7504 or www.safekidslcc.org) is the distribution and fitting center.