Students at Thunder Bay's C.D. Howe school are all geared up for a safe summer.

All 160 students at the elementary school, located on the city's north side, received free bike helmets on Monday morning as part of Bike Helmets on Kids, an annual campaign run by the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA).

"Each year, we pick out a special school," said Thunder Bay lawyer Duncan Macgillivray, a member of the OTLA's board of directors. "This is our fifth year of doing it, so this is actually, in total, over 1,000 helmets that we've given out."

Macgillivray said locally, the helmets are donated by OTLA members and the Brain Injury Association of Thunder Bay and Area.

"Bike helmet safety is extremely, extremely important," he said. "Driving around Thunder Bay, either on a bike or in a car, you see lots of children without bike helmets. And that's either because they need some education about it, or they don't have the resources to have them. So here, we're bringing both those pieces — both the education and the resources, so they can be safe on the roads this summer."

Big surprise

C.D. Howe teacher Leigh Mahood said the helmets were a big Monday morning surprise for the students.

"They knew that they were having an assembly on bike safety, but they had no idea that they were all getting new helmets today," she said. "They were really excited, and we really do have a grateful bunch of kids at C.D. Howe."

Mahood said the school teaches bicycle safety as part of the health curriculum.

"They do know the importance of it," she said. 

Ontario law requires everyone under age 18 wear a helmet when riding a bike, but, Macgillivray said, "everyone should be wearing one."

The Bike Helmets on Kids campaign began in London, Ont., in 2002.

OTLA members have since expanded it to include cities across the province.