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NEW COMIC BOOK USES FAMILIAR CHARACTERS TO TEACH KIDS THE IMPORTANCE OF WEARING BICYCLE HELMETS

 NEW COMIC BOOK USES FAMILIAR CHARACTERS TO TEACH KIDS
 THE IMPORTANCE OF WEARING BICYCLE HELMETS
 PROVIDENCE, R.I., May 20 /PRNewswire/ -- A hard-hitting new comic book introduces young readers to the sobering facts about head injuries and teaches them that wearing a helmet is not only "cool," it could very well save their lives.
 Entitled The Helmet Zone, the comic book is a joint effort of Project Head First, a Plainville, Mass.-based helmet advocacy group and Superstar Comics, a Massachusetts company that has published a series of comics featuring the "Screamer Brothers." The comic books will be distributed this summer by Rhode Gear, a manufacturer of quality children's bicycle helmets.
 "Head injuries are the leading cause of death and disability for children," said George Brown III, a former policeman who founded Project Head First. "The good news is that helmets can prevent most head injuries. The bad news is that most kids don't wear them. The comic book explodes the 'nerd' myth about helmets that discourages so many youngsters from wearing helmets."
 The book tells the story of Billy McKnight, a young boy who flies around on his bicycle and thinks he is "too cool" to wear a helmet. One day he hits a pothole and lands head first on the pavement. Fortunately Billy is only knocked out, but while he is out he dreams that he is led on a fantastic outer space journey through the "Helmet Zone", a land where victims of bike and skateboard accidents are displayed in the "Knucklehead Hall of Fame" and all the "cool" people -- hockey players, construction workers, firemen, race car drivers -- wear helmets. Along the way the Screamer Brothers, Rocko, Guy, Babe, and Stanley perform death-defying stunts, but only when wearing their helmets. Billy is convinced. He wakes from his dream promising that his helmet-less days are behind him.
 The comic book addresses a critical health problem among children. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, more than 400 children die each year in bicycle accidents and more than 500,000 are injured. Most deaths are direct results of head injuries. According to Harvard's research, helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent and the risk of brain injury by 88 percent. Recognizing the problem, New Jersey passed a law this year requiring the use of bicycle helmets by children.
 Comics have proven themselves a powerful teaching tool among educators. Following a recent pilot program using comics as educational tools, 90 percent of teachers rated comics as excellent or good in educational value and 91 percent said they would use them again.
 Rhode Gear will include copies of The Helmet Zone in specially marked packages of its Rhode Runner youth bicycle helmets. The comic books will be available in early June and throughout the summer or as supplies last.
 "Our helmets do no good if kids won't wear them," said Sherry McIntosh, director of marketing for Rhode Gear. "By warning children of the dangers of head injuries and encouraging them to always wear helmets, this comic book helps us round-out Rhode Gear's commitment to child safety."
 -0- 5/20/92
 /CONTACT: Amy Blumenthal or John Bentz of Blumenthal Associates, 617-983-9112, for Rhode Gear/ CO: Rhode Gear ST: Rhode Island IN: SU:


TM-PB -- NEFNS -- 2144 05/20/92 07:35 EDT
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:May 20, 1992
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