Three hundred bicycle helmets will be distributed to Ottawa elementary students through the Helmets on Kids Initiative this week and next.


The helmets were donated by a group of lawyers and law firms through the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association's program. The program, which began in London, expanded across the province last year.


Working with several Ottawa groups, including the Head Injury Association of the Ottawa Valley, Ottawa Public Health, Plan-it-Safe (CHEO), the Ottawa Safety Council, Safe Communities Ottawa and Citizens for Safe Cycling, local lawyers and law firms donated $2,500 to the Helmets on Kids campaign, allowing for the purchase about 300 helmets for students at four area elementary schools.


In 2003-2004, the highest proportion of hospitalizations due to cycling-related head injuries were seen in children and youth, and cycling is one of the leading causes of sports and recreation-related head injury, a Canadian Institute for Health Information report stated.

"The majority of head injuries in children can be prevented by wearing a properly fitted bicycle helmet during cycling," said Dr. Michael Vassilyadi, a pediatric neurosurgeon at CHEO and Ottawa Chapter Director for ThinkFirst Canada.

"In a city like Ottawa, with all the opportunities for outdoor activity, we wanted to help ensure that children are wearing their helmets when participating in activities such as cycling, rollerblading and skateboarding," said Laurie Tucker, an Ottawa personal injury lawyer and organizer of the OTLA initiative in Ottawa.