|Four on a moto common sight on Isla|
It’s always a huge surprise for new visitors to the island when they see multiple members of a family riding scooters or motorcycles – and frequently without helmets to protect their heads.
It’s pretty common to see mom or dad operating the moto with one child balanced in front of the driver, and the other parent tightly gripping one, or even two other children in their arms.
We are so accustomed to the sight we hardly give it a second thought.
However, not so with a group of caring individuals who decided to encourage a safer environment for the younger generation.
In June of 2014, long-time visitor Andrea Healey and her daughter Danielle Chesney brought much needed medical equipment to Giovanny Avalos for the Red Cross. When they delivered the supplies Andrea asked Giovanny what he saw as the greatest need for the islanders. He replied that it would be his dream to see all youngsters wearing helmets when riding on the family motorcycles.
After their vacation was over Andrea and Danielle returned home and gave Giovanni’s idea a lot of thought. They wanted to be culturally sensitive, and not be the bossy foreigners telling people how to live their lives.
They started small asking people to purchase helmets at a local hardware store and leave them with at the front desk of Marina Paraiso Hotel. Managers, Brad and Tiff Waring, had generously volunteered to be the collection point for the helmets. The initial distribution was handled through the schools, with teachers helping to identify the students who urgently needed the safety gear.
The second phase of Helmets for Isla was to collect donations and order in bulk from a Mexican company. Their first order was for 50, then the second was 420 and recently another 400 were ordered. In total there has been close to 1350 helmets distributed through the schools, through Volunquest, and through the churches.
Every helmet that is handed out comes with a contract of responsibility signed by the parents. These contracts are all about safety, educating both the parents and children of the importance of a well fitted helmet while riding a moto. But frequently the children won’t use the helmets, because it’s just not ‘cool.’ It’s always a slow process to change the habits of a lifetime.
Islander, Jessica Contreras has recently mobilized a group of volunteers. These locals are not shy about approaching their neighbours asking why their child is not wearing a helmet and educating them about the program.
Her brother’s company Prisma Golf Cart Rentals generously sponsored a huge banner to advertise the campaign.
Most recently Jessica has been into the high schools and those students are now very motivated to wear head protection since their friend Jorge died in a motorcycle accident on St Patrick's Day. He was not wearing a helmet.
Some of the students do not have helmets, some have helmets that are too small and they have removed the padding so they are large enough to fit on their heads, and some have helmets that are cracked, broken or damaged. Helmets for Isla now has a waiting list of two-hundred and fifty teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 years old, all of whom have made a written request for a helmet.
As Andrea said, “Our ultimate goal is to have a safe and well-fitting helmet for every child on the island, but are short-term goal right now is to get enough helmets for all of the teenagers who have requested them. We feel if we can get the adolescents on-board then hopefully they will encourage their younger brothers and sisters to wear the helmets too.”
Helmets for Isla is a worthwhile cause.
If you would like to help out, below are the links for more information.
Lynda and Lawrie
Isla Mujeres Mystery Book #3
Murder and mayhem on a tiny island in paradise.
Available on Amazon as an E-book for $2.99 USD
or paperback for $11.99 USD