It took just 4 hours for a Canadian powersports dealer to fill its dumpster with old, unsafe helmets, and put new ones on 120 off-highway vehicle (OHV) riders.
The one-day, free helmet-exchange event was called “Helmet Hedz.” It was held at Atlantic Recreation, in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland and Labrador, in partnership with the Avalon T’Railway Corporation (AVTRAC).
“It was a tremendous success,” said Rick Noseworthy, AVTRAC President. “It got helmets on the right heads. And not only did we get people to bring in their old helmets, they engaged in conversation. We started talking about safety. We passed out a lot of handouts from the COHV (Canadian Off-Highway Vehicle Distributors Council). And the event got people to the dealership, where they bought gloves and other safety gear. It worked out great for everybody.”
Noseworthy came up with the idea for the helmet exchange, and credits Atlantic Recreation for the success of the program, now in its fourth year. The Five Star Yamaha Dealership bought the mid-priced helmets from a helmet manufacturer, at a discount for the event. The store and AVTRAC split the cost. Atlantic Recreation also paid for advertising, including radio spots prior to the event and on-site live feeds the day of the giveaway, using its coop advertising program with Yamaha. “It really raised awareness,” said Noseworthy. “We held it in June, during ATV Safety Week. The whole Province got the message about safety and what we were doing.”
“Helmet Hedz” also raised money for the local children’s hospital. “We put a jar on the counter. We said ‘if you don’t have a helmet to exchange, but come in, talk with us, and make a donation to the children’s hospital here in St. John’s, we’ll give you a free helmet’. One guy came in late in the day, no helmet fit him, but he took it in stride and put $25 in the jar. At the end of the day, we donated $340 to the hospital.”
If you decide to do an event like this, don’t just give the helmets away, warns Noseworthy. They tried that a few years ago. It didn’t go well, as people lined up at the door and asked for 4 or 5 free helmets. “After that, we sat down with the dealership and decided to do it as a helmet trade-in. Some people break their helmets and stop using them. If they have something to exchange, it keeps the number of people coming in manageable, and gives us a chance to talk with them.
“We took in all kinds of helmets. It was absolutely entertaining. They looked like they got shot out of a cannon, some with big chunks out of them. There was a blue, sparkly, open-face helmet with flowers on it, right out the ‘70s.”
A Dedicated Dealer Makes All The Difference
This year’s “Helmet Hedz” event will be bigger and better than ever, said Noseworthy. AVTRAC also gives away helmets during events at schools and service groups, and figures that over the past three years they’ve passed out 450 to 500 helmets.
The key to a successful helmet exchange is the dealership, says Noteworthy. “When you have a good dealership, it makes all the difference in the world. We’ve had a partnership with Atlantic Recreation for over 15 years. They have grown with us as we’ve grown. We call them an equal partner, but they spend more money than we do.”
AVTRAC, a non-profit organization incorporated in June of 1998, developed and manages the multi-use Newfoundland T'Railway, a 900 km abandoned railway bed, from St. John's to Port Aux Basque. It is a member of the All Terrain Quad Council of Canada (AQCC), a consortium of 10 Province associations.
For more information on AVTRAC and the helmet exchange, call Rick Noseworthy at (709) 725-1490.
Noseworthy is also vice president of the Newfoundland T’Railway Council. Its mandate is to promote multi-use trail development and to preserve abandoned railway lines for future use, such as hiking, biking, equestrian, snowmobile, ATV and cross-country ski trails. Learn more at: http://www.trailway.ca/council.php