Although it is mandatory for cyclists, skateboarders and in-line skaters to wear a he lmet under the Motor Vehicle Act, it is not provincially mandated for ice-skating inside a recreation facility. Research done by American pediatricians shows however, that ice-skating is found to produce three times as many head injuries than any of these road-related activities. This is because ice is a slippery surface and does not provide the same stability that pavement does.
Nancy MacMillan, Rink Manager at the O’Leary Cavendish Farms Arena, believes it’s important for them to have a policy in place and hopes that users will follow the policy and respect staff assigned to enforce it. “We believe this a smart decision to help protect our facility users and keep them safe. Our hope is that people accept the change and encourage others to follow along too.”
Jamie Gosbee, Active & Safe Project Manager with Recreation PEI, says that more and more rink managers are taking a second look at their current helmet policies. “We’ve had a number of managers contact us lately asking what the other rinks are doing. The majority of them have an ‘all ages’ policy but a handful either have no current policy or a younger age minimum such as ‘12 and under’ or ‘16 and under’. We always recommend the ‘all ages’ option so we were really happy when we heard that’s what O’Leary decided to go with.”
“The O’Leary Cavendish Farms Arena Board of Directors is committed to the safety of all individuals and groups while utilizing the O’Leary Cavendish Farms Arena. CSA approved protective helmets are mandatory for all individuals of all ages while enjoying ice skating activities at the O’Leary Cavendish Farms Arena.” – O’Leary Cavendish Farms Arena Helmet Policy
In the past, some rinks have chosen to go with the younger age because they believed it was easier to enforce the policy for a certain age and they didn’t have the staff to help enforce a policy to higher age users or user groups that may resist. That doesn’t seem to be a concern any more. MacMillan says, “We always thought we had a policy in place. Most of the users showed up with helmets and there were very few times we had to ask individuals to put a helmet on. When we looked closer we realized there was nothing written down. It will be good to finally have a policy we can point to and we don’t believe there will be any push-back from users.” (There may be exemptions granted on a case-by-case basis. Those wishing to apply for an opt-out must submit application to the Board of Directors in writing. Contact facility management for more information.)
With the addition of a policy in O’Leary, that leaves only a handful of rinks with no policy or a policy that isn’t ‘all ages’. Recreation PEI will continue to work with those rinks. “Our ultimate goal is to have every rink using the same ‘all ages’ policy,” says Gosbee. In fact, since 2011, Recreation PEI has assisted almost every Island rink to adopt some type of helmet policy. “We’re almost there – there are a couple left – and with all the recent renovations and new builds, we think it’s a perfect time for those rinks to add a new helmet policy too.”
Valerie Vuillemot, Executive Director at Recreation PEI is also advocating for the safety of the users of these facilities. “We work closely with Occupational Health & Safety and both our organizations encourage all of our member facilities to take a second look at their current helmet policy to see if it need to be updated. We can help work with our members on their policies, opt-out forms, and signage if needed.”
In addition to the new helmet policy, Recreation PEI would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the O’Leary Arena on the completion of their recent upgrades and their new naming sponsorship from Cavendish Farms.