On October 17, High Fives Foundation, along with POC Sports, premiered the short-film, #helmetsarecool. The movie was shown outdoors to an estimated 350 people behind California 89’s signature store in Truckee, California.

The film loosely follows snowboarder Danny Toumarkine’s recovery from a traumatic brain injury suffered while snowboarding in Montana on January 3, 2011. The New Hampshire-born snowboarder was not wearing a helmet at the time of his crash. If he had been, says Toumarkine in the film, he might have only suffered a concussion.

Through Toumarkine, and testimonials from other skiers and snowboarders including Cody Townsend, Julia Mancuso, Michelle Parker, and Jeremy Jones, High Fives and POC are hoping to shift an unsettling industry mantra that occasionally casts wearing a helmet as dorky or uncool. The film is filled with real-life consequences and near-death experiences that left me feeling, well, terrible for not wearing a helmet in the past. There have been too many close calls for this skier.

“It was challenging touching on the subject of head injuries,” says Nik David Sullivan, co-director of the film. Sullivan’s other notable directing work is the popular G.N.A.R. – The Movie. “It was tough to balance the truth and effects of head injuries. We didn’t want people to feel sorry for anyone. Making a documentary about helmets, as someone who hasn’t worn helmets in the past, I took away a new found inspiration to wear helmets more.”

Added Sullivan when asked what he took away from the film, ”When you mountain bike, you would never think of not wearing a helmet. The argument that snow is soft doesn’t hold up, because most of the time in most of the places people skis. Hard pack will crush your head as much as the side of a trail will. It definitely makes me think.”

#Helmetsarecool is the third installment of High Fives’ B.A.S.I.C.S. Program Service. The acronym stands for Being Aware Safe In Critical Situations. Through these videos, the nonprofit hopes to bring safety awareness to young athletes so that they can avoid the life-altering injuries that so many have suffered. The two previous B.A.S.I.C.S. documentaries are about critical thinking in order to avoid five mistakes that winter action sports athletes have made before suffering a life-altering injury; and backcountry safety with a concentration on avalanche awareness.

“We are trying to reach a series of schools, academies, and clubs through presentations,” says Adam Baillargeon, High Fives Director of Operations.
“Our goal is to reach 55,000 students.”

Read the story about High Fives and Roy Tuscany in the profile that published in the November 2012 issue (Volume 41, Issue 3).

The helmet campaign began last December and will continue through outreach programs in California, Nevada, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine and on social media. From now through January 1, using the hashstag #helmetsarecool on Instagram enters users in a contest to win free POC protective gear.

High Fives presented the concept for the film to every helmet company, though only one company stepped up to the plate.

“POC was the only one that really truly saw what we envisioned,” says Roy Tuscany, High Fives’ founder. “They thought it was something they really wanted to get behind.”

To learn more, please click-in to Basics.HighFivesFoundation.org