COVER OUR KIDS CAMPAIGN NOW COMPLETE!
Thank you to the amazing community leaders who led this campaign, and to the generous donors who made it possible, Students in Duncan now have an extra layer of protection in times of severe weather. This helps protect against head wounds or brain injuiries from falling debris or falling objects during a storm.
The Cover Our Kids Committee members included: Patty Wininger, Chairman; Gabe Amaya; Heather Amaya; Kristen Kirkland; Jill Bethany; Merry Stone and Dr. Sherry Labyer
Photo Courtesty of Horace Mann Schools, showing students wearing their helmets as they drill for the upcoming tornado season.
In the aftermath of the Moore tornado in 2013 that claimed the lives of seven elementary children, and with the realization that things such as safe rooms and helmets could add another layer of protection from Oklahoma’s notorious weather, Patty Wininger set out on a mission to obtain helmets for the children and staff of Duncan Public Schools. As a health care emergency manager, she knew that the latest research data indicated that the use of safety helmets such as bike helmets could help protect against head wounds or brain injuries from debris or falling objects during a storm, even indoors when evacuating or taking shelter.
Meeting with then DPS superintendent Dr. Sherry Labyer in early 2014, who whole heartedly agreed, a volunteer committee was formed called “Cover Our Kids”. With approval of the DPS board, the group’s mission was to raise not only funds for this cause, but to raise awareness, of the need for helmets for all of the children in the Duncan Public School system and its staff. A committed and caring group of parents, community volunteers, and educators met and worked out a plan to do both. The original goal was to raise $90,000 for a helmet and a blanket, with the blanket being something to wrap in, to help further shield the body from injury, for each child. Midway through this project, another committee member, Jill Bethany, came on board, who was able to help the group secure a company that would work with Cover Our Kids and DPS for the manufacture and sale of skate board-type helmets, in three different sizes, in order to accommodate kindergarten, elementary, middle and high school students.
Skate board helmets are considered the ideal head protection due to the longer length on the back part of the helmet. The committee decided to move forward with the helmet project as its single mission, using Daniel Gesmer and the Seismic Skate Company.
Multiple fund raising efforts were held and donations came from every school, many children and parents, grandparents, PTOs, community groups, churches, businesses, volunteer groups, banks, professional organizations, health care agencies, and individuals. Donations came in amounts of pennies all the way to a single one of $5000. A plan was developed for storage of the helmets, using heavy duty mesh bags, in classrooms or designated areas for quick retrieval along with a plan to drill with the helmets as part of the ongoing safety plans of Duncan Public Schools in the spring of 2015. Armed with more than $39,000, the order was placed for the helmets.
As of Jan. 13, 2015, over 4000 skate board helmets were delivered to the Central Office Warehouse of the Duncan Public Schools. Helmets were distributed to every school and added as part of tornado drills prior to the official start of the Oklahoma Tornado season. The goal for every DPS student to have a helmet as another layer of protection along with safe rooms and other measures has been accomplished. 2016 finds the helmets in place at all of the schools ready for the next tornado/storm season in Oklahoma!
The Cover our Kids committee worked tirelessly for over a year to help make this project come to fruition as they led, participated, spoke, gave, promoted, encouraged, pushed, and even worried, it to completion. The committee’s concern for some of Duncan’s most valuable citizens, the children, is why this project was so important.
For more information about the “Cover Our Kids” campaign and how it helped our schools, contact Patty Wininger at firstname.lastname@example.org.