Schwinn’s Helmet on Heads initiative went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Lake Street Bash for the students’ All Campus Week. There was free food, music, games, and lots of students enjoying the great weather. We were there partnering with the Association of Athletic Training Students(AATS), a UW-Madison campus organization for students who are pursuing a career in athletic training and got to hand out helmets to student who correctly answered questions about helmet safety.
Schwinn: Kevin, can you tell us what AATS is and what sort of things the organization does on campus?
Kevin: AATS is the Association of Athletic Training Students and we participate in many activities in the community and on campus. We are a student organization that focuses on educating students and the community on health topics like concussions. Last year, we were asked to give a concussion presentation to all of UW-Madison’s sports club presidents and board members. We have also participated in events like the Science Day held at the Wisconsin Institute of Discovery, Porchlight Donations, Alzheimer’s Prevention Research Day at the Wisconsin Institute of Discovery, high school sports medicine classes and blood drives at the Union South.
And of course, the past two semesters we have given away 125 helmets to UW-Madison students thanks to Schwinn at the RecSports Expo and Wisconsin Alumni Student Board’s (WASB) Lake Street Bash!
Schwinn: Why did AATS decide to include a Helmet Advocacy Program into their student organization objectives?
Kevin: Brain safety has been a main focus of AATS for the past two years. Concussions and other brain injuries are a hot topic in health care right now and it is especially a hot topic for athletic trainers. As student athletic trainers, we have the privilege of having clinical rotations with UW-Athletics and learning from their amazing head athletic trainers. The head athletic trainers take care of every aspect of the student athlete’s health; this even includes moped and bicycle safety. There are many athletic trainers and coaches that require student athletes to wear helmets while riding mopeds and bicycles to keep them safe. Learning from these experiences, we as student athletic trainers thought it would be a great idea to promote helmet safety to the students of UW-Madison especially because there are many students that use bicycles every day for their mode of transportation.
Schwinn: Why is helmet safety personally important to you?
Kevin: My dad is a huge cyclist, he bikes to work all year round and he instilled his love for biking in me. I bike everywhere on campus, and I joined a national organization four years ago where we raise money by biking 1,000+ miles across the country (usually from the South like Louisiana to the North like Chicago). I bike so much that I know I need to wear a helmet because it only takes one mistake to fall off my bike and hit my head.
Schwinn: What do you think prevents college students from wearing helmets and how can we change that?
Kevin: Unfortunately for most I think it is a mindset. Most students don’t bike very long or far to class so they don’t think they need to wear a helmet. Also, I know a lot of students don’t like bringing their helmet into the classroom or stuffing it in their backpack. Hint for that: lock it up with your bike by putting the lock through the ear section of the helmet, that’s what I do. Finally, I have heard students say that helmets are too expensive, and they don’t have the money or don’t want to spend the money for a helmet. Honestly, that is one of the main reasons AATS started this helmet advocacy program. If you get a free helmet, money isn’t an issue!
Schwinn: Any interesting stories from the event?
Kevin: As we were unpacking the helmets from my van, a student walked up and asked what all of the helmets were for. We told her we were giving them away at a booth at the Lake Street Bash. She got all excited and said she would visit our booth to try and win one. She was one of the first people at our booth and she ended up winning a helmet. She wasn’t the only one, we had a lot of students show up and take pictures of themselves wearing the helmets with their friends. It was really cool to see students get excited about bike helmets.
Schwinn: What does AATS have planned for the future of their Helmet Advocacy Program?
Kevin: The sky is the limit! We have a very dedicated group of students and I am very excited about our up and coming leaders that will take over after I graduate. Personally, I would love to have an event to start the school year in Fall and to end the school year in Spring. We have been very fortunate enough to be able to do that so far. I would not only like to give away free helmets but to also give away coupons to as many students as possible for discounted helmets. My vision is to put a helmet on every UW-Madison student who bikes around campus!
Schwinn: Thank you to Kevin, Claire, and all the AATS members who let us hang out with them at the Lake Street Bash this year!
Get out and Ride!