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Graduates: Wear your helmets

Dr. Drew Werner
Vail CO, Colorado

As I am writing this week’s column, I am enjoying a beautiful sunset out my window. I think spring is really here. I have actually been bold enough to have uttered that same phrase several times in the past weeks and each time it has snowed. I will accept all blame for our weather then, with the hope it won’t turn frigid until we are all ready for the snow to once again coat us in white. With thoughts of spring I also think of the cyclists out there dotting our roadways, paths, trails and driveways. Perhaps it is time for a reminder about helmet safety. On the other hand, graduations are upon us and a few words of congratulations might be best. My dilemma of what to write about was thankfully solved by a letter.

Dear Doc,

Our son was recently involved in a significant accident longboarding. With no helmet he was fortunate not to be seriously injured. Could you remind us all about the importance of wearing a helmet?

” Thankful in Gypsum

Dear Thankful,

Thank you! It seems so simple, wear a helmet and you can avoid a potentially life-changing injury. While I have written about bike helmet safety, as well as about wearing ski and snowboarding helmets, the list does not stop there. With the exception perhaps of a riding lawnmower, we all should wear a helmet if we are in an activity where the ground moves beneath us, no roof is over our head, and we are not walking or running. In addition to the three sports I mentioned, roller blading, skate boarding and long boarding all come to mind as well. Kayaking also falls into the “helmet is a good idea” group of activities.

I could finish this article by talking about choosing the right helmet for the right activity, and making sure it fits correctly. That would bee much too easy, though. I am sure our upcoming graduates would only be bored. The true challenge is not in wearing the helmet, but in making the decision to do so. In fact your challenge is to always make the right decision. Now maybe that is something worth reading about.

Graduation is a momentous occasion for the accomplishment you have earned as well as for the future it promises. Therein lies your challenge. Your future has the potential to be what you make of it. Like wearing a helmet, all you need to do is make the right decisions. You have learned how to be a critical thinker, and ask the right questions. Keep on asking them! Keep on challenging yourselves by asking: “What will happen if I do this?” and equally important “What will happen if I don’t do this?”

Healthy decisions are easy. Get enough sleep. Drink plenty of water. Do not smoke or use drugs and never drink alcohol and drive. Exercise regularly, wear sun block, have a healthy diet and never skip meals. I know I am starting to sound boring, but it can be easy to overlook the simple things. There are a lot of choices you will make, and fewer hands to guide you along.

How hard will you work after graduation? How will you balance work and play? Will you respect others, and treat them as you wish to be treated? Will you choose and keep truly good friends? I read an article about the actor Will Smith several years ago, which I remember well. My children were young and his message still stands as an important reminder of the decisions we make. Mr. Smith was asked how he became successful and managed to stay out of the trouble that plagues so many in Hollywood. His answer was simple.

“My mother taught me that I will never be better than the worst of my friends and I have always followed that philosophy,” he said.

Congratulations to all our valley’s graduates! Your hard work and dedication has brought you far, and set you well on your way to future success. Keep making healthy decisions, and remember those decisions involve more than the simple ones. I hope your futures are as bright as the smiles on your graduation day. And please, wear your helmets.

Remember your health is your responsibility! Health is our greatest asset and it doesn’t happen by accident. If something doesn’t seem right, or questions are left unanswered don’t wait, call your doctor. Let me know what’s on your mind at cschnell@vaildaily.com.


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