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A Boost for Bicycle Safety, with Cheers


West Elementary School second-grader Max Troche plans to wear his brand new helmet when he rides his green and black bike this spring.

Kim Hernden, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital injury prevention specialist, gets the fit just right for second-grader Yulian Merced

“I’m excited because the helmet I have hurts my head,” Max said.

Thanks to a donation from Hudsonville Rocket Cheer, a program for girls in first through eighth grades, he is one of 520 kindergarten through fourth-grade students at West who have brand-new bicycle helmets.

Along with the headgear, they received helmet fittings from Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital representatives, who led education sessions on bike safety. Students learned how, when and why to wear bike helmets.

In 2016, of nine children admitted to the hospital because of bike accidents, only two were wearing helmets, said Kim Hernden, DeVos Children’s Hospital injury prevention specialist.

West Elementary students signed a thank-you card for the helmets’ donors, the Hudsonville Rocket Cheer program

Britni Schipper, director and owner of Hudsonville Rocket Cheer, said the program hosts a fundraising event every year. “We wanted the girls to learn more than just the sport of cheer,” she said. “By collecting funds, the girls learned to come together as a team to be able to give back to our community.”

Schipper and her assistant director are both emergency room nurses at Spectrum Health, so keeping children safe is “near and dear to our hearts,” she added.

West Elementary physical education teacher Shani Padding helped share information on bike safety during the fitting session. “It’s been fun for me to see the kids being excited about being safe,” she said.

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Article on Bicycle Helmet Safety

Second-graders (from left) Crystal Rios, Lyric McPhee and Nuru Nunda play a bicycle safety game

Jen Wilson, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital child life specialist, fits second-grader Claire Wierenga with a helmet

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio

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