Grand Rapids, Michigan, January 15, 2020

The Brain Injury Association of Michigan is launching Think aHEAD, a year-long statewide campaign encouraging children and teens to wear helmets while participating in recreational sports.

The Think aHEAD campaign is aimed to increase helmet usage, prevent brain injuries and save lives. The initiative will work to break down the misguided perception that it is “not cool” to wear a helmet while participating in sports that do not regulate helmet use, such as skiing, snowboarding, biking, roller skating, horseback riding or skateboarding.

To kick off the campaign, the BIAMI is partnering with ski resorts across the state to increase helmet use among skiers and snowboarders. Participating ski resorts in West Michigan include Cannonsburg, Caberfae Peaks and others.

Children and teens “caught” wearing helmets by ski patrol at the participating resorts will be rewarded with a coupon for a free hot chocolate from McDonalds courtesy of the Michigan Snowsports Industries Association. Those without helmets will be given a coupon for a 20% discount on a ski or snowboarding helmet at one of more than 25 participating retailers located across the state.

“The Think aHEAD campaign represents a new and exciting challenge for us, allowing the BIAMI to focus externally on an initiative designed to increase helmet usage, prevent brain injuries and save lives,” said the BIAMI President and CEO Thomas J. Constand. “We are using positive reinforcement to encourage helmet use by incentivizing kids and teens to protect their most valuable possession – their brains – by choosing to wear a helmet.”

During warmer seasons, the BIAMI will enlist police officers, firefighters and others from across the state to award those wearing helmets during recreational sports such as bicycling, skateboarding, roller skating and roller blading, among others.

The Think aHEAD campaign is made possible with the help of community sponsors, including Children’s Foundation, Spectrum Health, Michigan Snowsports Industries Association, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, Boyne Country Sports, Hope Network, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, Sinas Dramis Law Firm, Safe Kids Michigan and Sabo PR.

“We are proud to partner with organizations that share our passion for promoting the benefits of wearing a helmet,” Constand said. “We would not be able to help save the lives of so many without their support.”

According to a 2012 Johns Hopkins-led study, approximately 10 million Americans ski or snowboard each year, with approximately 600,000 injuries reported annually. Of these, 20% are brain injuries, which mostly occur among skiers and snowboarders.

In a 2016 study by the American Journal of Surgery that tracked 6,257 patients suffering a bicycling injury, 52% sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI. The same journal found that helmet use provides protection against severe TBI, reduces facial fractures and saves lives even after sustaining an intracranial hemorrhage. According to the Snell Memorial Foundation, medical costs associated with unhelmeted bicyclists is approximately $3.2 billion annually.

“There is a negative stigma that it isn’t cool to wear a helmet, especially during recreational sports,” said Brooke Brewer, a former professional snowboarder who survived a traumatic brain injury during Olympic training because she was wearing a helmet. “Being smart enough to wear a helmet saved my life – and I’m overjoyed that the Think aHEAD campaign will spread the importance of helmet usage and save the lives of others, too.”

Established in 1981, the BIAMI is one of the longest-running and productive affiliates of the Brain Injury Association of America. The BIAMI is committed to reducing the incidence and impact of brain injury through advocacy, awareness, education, prevention, research and support.

For more information about the Think aHEAD campaign or how to become a community partner, please visit biami.org/engage/thinkahead.

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