Helmets First was started in 2004, with the goal of educating both children and parents on the importance of wearing a bicycle helmet, as well as providing free helmets for children who need them.
Our mission: To promote the health and safety of children by providing helmets and helmet education, as well as rewarding those who wear a helmet, so that they may grow to be healthy, productive members of society.
The program has three ‘tiers’:
-Educational opportunities: school/club presentations, bicycle rodeos, and a current goal of producing a helmet and bicycle safety video, as well as an educational and informative website.
-Free bicycle helmets for children who need them. This is done by fundraising, donations, and grants. We also offer helmets at cost to groups who intend to give the helmets out for free.
-Rewards for children seen wearing helmets. Currently this is occurring in Monroe County, IL only. Local Police officers give items, such as DQ coupons, Six Flags passes, and more.
Since its creation, Helmets First has distributed over 25,000 helmets to St Louis area children.
The Helmet Doctor started the program when he saw the lack of helmet use in children in his community of Salem, IL. He felt that the combination of these efforts would give the best results in getting children to wear bicycle helmets. Thehe first year 100 helmets were distibuted and he performed one classroom presentation. In 2013 he was involved with over 50 events and gave out over 4,000 helmets in areas ranging from Sparta, IL, to Ft. Madison, IA, to Indianapolis, IN, to Eureka, MO and everywhere in between!
The short term goal is to enhance the abilities of the program in the St Louis areas by improving the website (recently finished) and adding a mobile version, developing an educational video, and encouraging others to start their own chapters of Helmets First. Medical practices are encouraged to use the model created to not only promote health and safety, but to also market their practices. Long term, there is hope to make Helmets First a national program with free helmets for any child who needs one.
While Dr Cangas' initial goal was to promote bicyle helmet safety, the current mission includes head protection for kids for all sporting activities.