Vail Valley teens urged to wear helmets
Vail, CO Colorado
EDWARDS, Colorado – Allen Browning is religious about wearing a helmet on the mountain, but that wasn’t always the case.
In fact, the 17-year-old never wore a helmet until his freshman year of high school, when he received a free one from Think First, a Vail Valley Medical Center program that works to prevent traumatic injuries.
As it turns out, the helmet might have saved his life.
Browning, now a junior at Red Canyon High School, was snowboarding on a Beaver Creek tree run not long ago when he had a close call. He had been trying to slide over a log when he caught an edge, slammed his head on the log and cracked his helmet. Browning hates to think what might have happened if he hadn’t been wearing the helmet.
“I could have been seriously injured,” he said.
On Wednesday, Browning and several other students at Red Canyon High School in Edwards received free helmets from Think First. The program provides about 250 helmets to Eagle County school children each year, program chapter director Kim Greene said. Funding for the helmets comes from a combination of donors, including Vail Resorts, United Way Eagle River Valley and Vail Valley Cares, she said.
For teens, wearing a helmet can come with a stigma. Some students think helmets are uncool or will prevent them from doing certain tricks, Greene said.
“I try really hard to buy cool helmets because it is a fashion statement for them,” she said. “We try to pick helmets they’ll wear.”
There’s more at stake than fashion. Greene reminds students how quickly a traumatic injury could change their lives.
“You have these dreams and brain injury can yank them out of your hand in one second,” she said.
For Greene, preventing traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries is a true passion. Her son Jeremy Greene, 26, suffered a serious brain injury 11 years ago when his car hit a tree in Breckenridge. He is now one of the Think First speakers who visits Eagle County schools to talk about preventing injuries.
“I think when students hear someone’s real-life story, they connect with that, and I think that’s what makes this program really special,” Greene said.
Along with holding programs in the schools, Think First provides testing for student athletes in Eagle County. Students get tested for cognitive function so doctors have a basis for comparison in case the child suffers a concussion or other head injury.
A majority of traumatic injuries that come into the Vail hospital happen when people fall while skiing or playing sports, she said.
With ski season under way, Greene hopes students will heed her message to strap into a helmet.
Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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