These helmets, along with those of the first school last month, and the ones I gave to friends and friends' family members,
bring the total to 537 distributed... and 31still awaiting new owners. We're working on how best to give those out—more on that as we figure it out.
In addition to the children's helmets, I decided early-on to give a helmet to each adult working at the school in any capacity, from Principal to cleaning staff. This helped excite the staff about the project and used that fact that Việt Nam is a "tribal society" to our advantage. By giving helmets to the adults, it kept the tribe of the school intact, reinforced the importance of wearing the helmets, and ensured that anyone who did NOT wear his/her helmet would stand out; in a tribal society, people want to fit in.
There are 267 students from three to six years old at this school and we wanted to ensure that each child's helmet fit correctly to maximize its effectiveness. There is little-to-no training in VN on proper and safe motorbike riding and even less on proper helmet fitting, so Vy (my right-hand and translator) rounded up 11 of her friends from Đà Lạt University to help us hand out the helmets and ensure a proper fit.
I took the students and two Red Cross officials to lunch a few hours before the event. After lunch we went to my house where I showed them how to check that the helmet is the proper size and then adjust the straps to ensure that the helmet will stay on in an accident. I found it rewarding that, when putting their own helmets on to leave for the school, some of the students readjusted their own straps. One even asked if he could borrow one of the student's helmets because now he sees that his helmet is no good.
I'll let photos tell you the story of the rest of the day...
|From the right: Vy, Tuyết (Red Cross), friend Eric, our wonderful volunteers, and some old guy who wandered in off the street|
|The children were amazingly patient|
|Part of the afternoon's entertainment|
|One of the Principals addresses the students and parents|
|I thank them for allowing me to be with them today, then talk about what brought me here and the importance of wearing a helmet EVERY time you ride a motorbike or bicycle|
|A student thanks us and promises they will all wear their helmets|
|She then gets fitted for the first helmet|
|The head of the parents' organization thanks us and speaks about how important helmets are to protecting their children's future|
|One of the Red Cross representatives speaks about the importance of wearing a helmet|
|Another Principal addresses the students and parents|
|While fitting the helmets, we saw a lot of smiles...|
|One of the smallest students|
|The children were very happy and appreciative—and well-behaved|
|We took the time to see that each student's helmet fit properly|
|Matching helmets, too|
|Most of the students... and in the back on the right two teachers are wearing their helmets|
We also hired a video cameraman who put together a compilation video of the presentations at both schools.
I will close with my favorite of all the photos... I still smile and get a tear in my eye when I see it...