Purpose: Pediatric bicycle-related injuries cause over 250,000 emergency department visits and over 100 deaths annually in the United States. Helmets remain the single most effective way to reduce bicycle and scooter injuries, yet most children do not use them routinely. Interventions that encourage preschool-age children to use helmets and train caregivers on how to properly fit helmets can promote early development of safe habits. With support from an American Academy of Pediatrics Resident Community Access to Child Health (CATCH) Grant, we developed the “Helmet Smart at Head Start” program to encourage helmet use among preschool children and to pilot a newly created online helmet training podcast to teach caregivers about helmet safety and proper fitting. Methods: We collaborated with two Head Start (HS) programs and Safe Kids, a national injury prevention organization, to develop an educational program for children and their caregivers. We created a 3-minute audiovisual podcast accessible on mobile and tablet devices to teach caregivers about the importance of helmet safety and how to properly fit a child’s helmet. At the HS event, each child received a new, adjustable helmet while caregivers watched the podcast and completed pre- and post- surveys assessing helmet-related attitudes and practices. As an ancillary benefit of the program, each child received a Health and Safety Report Card, with HS staff using their own database to help identify children with missing health screenings. At the HS event, families were given information to connect them to needed services including medical and dental homes. Results: Events were held at two separate HS programs in March 2016 with greater than 200 total participants. Over 100 helmets were distributed to children. A total of 50 caregivers viewed the educational podcast and completed the survey. Caregivers reported that prior to the event their child did not always wear a helmet when using a bicycle (55%), tricycle (71%), or scooter (70%). While almost all the caregivers felt helmet use was important, 48% indicated that their child did not previously own a helmet. After viewing the educational podcast, caregiver comfort level in fitting the child’s helmet increased from 78% to 94%. Caregivers also reported that their child would be more likely to wear a helmet over the next several months compared to prior: bicycle (36% to 94%); tricycle (20% to 88%); and scooter (20% to 92%). Conclusion: Community initiatives at HS centers with interactive programming and on-demand audiovisual materials can effectively disseminate important health and injury prevention information. By offering an educational helmet safety program in collaboration with community partners, important information can be shared quickly and asynchronously during an event. Providing children access to helmets appears to be a critical component in the promotion of helmet use in resource-poor settings.
Helmet Smart at Head Start: A Collaborative Educational Program to Promote Helmet Safety Among Preschool Children
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Aviva Alpert, Wendi-Jo Wendt, Andrew N. Hashikawa, Bethany Folsom; Helmet Smart at Head Start: A Collaborative Educational Program to Promote Helmet Safety Among Preschool Children. Pediatrics January 2018; 141 (1_MeetingAbstract): 32. 10.1542/peds.141.1MA1.32
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