Nel Wilkin and sons Laen, 6, and Blake, 8, is concerned kids are getting mixed messages about wearing helmets when skating and biking.
Nel Wilkin and sons Laen, 6, and Blake, 8, is concerned kids are getting mixed messages about wearing helmets when skating and biking. Jacklyn Wagner

Safety workshop for skaters

“I'M SMART because I wear a helmet, and I'm going to stay smart because I wear a helmet.”

Those wise words were from the mouth of six-year-old skater Blake, following a skating workshop at Goonellabah this week.

His mum Nell Wilkin is pleased the safety message is getting through but worried about those who continue to ignore it.

On their regular visits to skate parks, she and her sons, aged six and eight, often see skateboard, bike and scooter riders without safety gear.

“A very common question I get is ‘they're not wearing a helmet, so why should I?'.”

According to Northern Rivers Skateboard coach, Dylan McNamara, it's all about the “cool factor”.

He said it was easy enough to encourage younger kids to wear helmets, but once they hit a certain age, it became difficult.

“I've had 13 and 14 year olds not participate in lessons just because they have to wear a helmet.”

Mr McNamara said the popularity of skateboarding and the growing number of skate parks in the region had made safety a big issue.

“There are all these new skate parks that have sprung up and the kids just don't know the rules.”

He said like surfing, there was a skate park “etiquette”, which had to be learnt.

 

SAFE HELMETS CAN BE COOL, TOO

Helmet design has come along way since the days of the Rosebank Stackhat.

The classic orange helmet was almost ubiquitous when mandatory bike helmet legislation was introduced in 1990, but it was also considered incredibly uncool.

Lismore cycle store owner Darrell Pursey said the days of heavy, hot and clunky helmets were long gone.

“Now they're a lot lighter and cooler and you can do things like micro-adjust to suit your head size,” he said.

“You don't even know you've got them on your head.”

Modern designs were more aerodynamic, and also came in “fancy colour and patterns”, he said.

Ironically, the Rosebank-style is now making a retro-cool comeback.

Skate helmets, which bear a strong resemblance to the Stackhat, are growing in favour among both skaters and cyclists.



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