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Bike Lights Installed for Safer Riding

By Ellie Reinhardt

All bikes on campus will be adorned with a front light courtesy of the student-run, non-profit organization Concussions Speak on Friday, May 2. The detachable snap bike lights will act as a precautionary measure for both bikers and runners around campus to help avoid accidents and subsequently, injuries such as concussions.

Founded by Emma Kitchen ’14.5 and Kaitlin Surdoval ’12 and now run by Kitchen, Sierra Stites ’14.5, Tiffany Chang ’17 and Sophie Kapica ’17. Concussions Speak works to spread awareness about the effects of concussions.

Kitchen and Surdoval started the non-profit in 2012 after both suffered severe concussions and wanted a way to share their stories and spread awareness.

Kitchen enrolled in MiddCORE in January 2012, then worked on MiddSTART and won MiddChallenge in the spring of 2012 to help start the organization. The programs worked as a means for funding that came through grants and donations.

“The goal is to bring more awareness and make it a healthier conversation to talk about your concussions and your experiences and help others recover from theirs,” said Surdoval who remains involved with the organization’s outreach beyond the College.

Kitchen worked with a faculty advisor, Assistant Professor of Writing Hector Vila, and the Office of Public Safety, to put lights on bikes around campus.

Along with putting lights on the bikes, Concussions Speak will also be selling bike lights on May 3 and 4 in front of Proctor Dining Hall. Afterward, they will be available for sale in Wilson Café.

“This is more of a precautionary measure to reduce the number of concussions. We also raise awareness about concussions and about what they are,” Kitchen said. “We want to make sure that there’s a strong community on campus that is there to support those that have had concussions.”

She added, “Bike accidents and running accidents happen because of a lack of awareness of the person and we are trying to make sure that we can reduce those injuries … I think this is a realistic goal to have to raise awareness and reduce injury and this can actually have significant change without that much effort and that much social change by the rider. We’re trying to make it minimal amount of effort from the rider but maximum amount of reduction in the injury.”

Along with initiatives like this one, Concussions Speak also spreads awareness through their website, concussionsspeak.com, the use of social media and at public speaking events. All of the students involved with the organization have suffered from a concussion and use these outlets to share their stories.

“There’s prevention, which is important, but also there’s the conversation and awareness and we’re just more interested in people sharing their stories so everyone knows they’re not alone and knows you can recover at your own rate and hopefully find the support that you need to do so,” Surdoval said.

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