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Bike helmet campaign: Message delivered, mission charged to DIS students
By Jennifer Johnston
Feb 6, 2013 - 9:31:08 AM

On Thursday, January 31, over 100 members of Daniel Island School’s Beta Club and Student Council assembled in the school’s band room to hear DI resident Karen Tosh’s compelling bike helmet testimony, in her own words. And this normally chatty crew of middle-schoolers hung respectfully on every last one.
Tosh recounted her harrowing tale, rewinding 15 months ago when she suffered a traumatic brain injury following a helmet-less ride – and crash – returning home from an island concert. She admitted to the group that she owned a helmet at the time, but kept it more on reserve for “sport” riding; it had not even occurred to her to wear it that particular evening. Today, she is constantly reminded of the lasting effects of that trauma to her head, from an inability to multi-task to profound distraction by outside noise. Of her choice to ride without a helmet that October evening, Tosh says with candor, “I live every day with the consequences of my decision.”
Still, the mother of two young boys acknowledged that there are reasons people – particularly kids – make that same decision every day. “I was a kid once,” she conceded to the student clubs, “and I know you get to an age when wearing a helmet might not be ‘cool.’” With that admission, she asked the students to raise their hands if they ride a bike. About 90% of the group raised hands. Then she inquired as to how many wear a helmet. Only about 10-20% of the same hands went up. Tosh commended them for their honesty, a terrific starting point.
As the guest speaker wrapped up her remarks, it was DIS Principal Marty French’s turn to keep it real. “I only started wearing a helmet when I became principal of this school,” she confessed as she stepped forward to wrap up the session. It was her husband who pointed out that, as a resident of the island, she was a role model outside of school, too. And she couldn’t bear the thought of any of her students not wearing a helmet “because Mrs. French doesn’t.”
You will not find these two women biking without their noggins nestled, and they are hoping to inspire other island adults to pledge – and do – the same. Starting with the teachers and faculty at DIS, the students were challenged to find creative ways to recognize their educators for setting a great example. But the primary objective of the Beta Club and Student Council will be to encourage their classmates to make a true habit of wearing bike helmets, and this is where Mrs. French passed the baton of this campaign.
She encouraged the students to get creative, working with the tagline, “Dude, Where’s Your Helmet?” She invited them to submit photos of themselves wearing helmets, which will be posted around the school. She asked them to think of famous sports figures, from snowboarders to skate-pros, for whom head-protection is a no-brainer. And she urged them to use their own voices to reach their peers in the weeks ahead.

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