Radhika takes a ride

Published On 10/20/2016

College student uses scholarship money to teach kids about bicycle safety

Radhika Puri woke up in a hospital bed after 21 days in a coma. The 16-year-old learned she’d fallen off her bike and hit her head on the pavement. Radhika wasn’t wearing a helmet. She suffered a traumatic head injury and missed nine weeks of high  school while recovering in a rehabilitation hospital.

“To have a traumatic brain injury and return to normal in two months is practically unheard of,” Radhika said. “I am so blessed and thankful and wanted to use my story to inspire others. Wearing a helmet should not be taken lightly, ever.” 

Radhika made a miraculous recovery. She went on to attend Rhodes College. She was a recipient of the Clarence Day Scholarship, a program which encourages scholars to be part of a project that gives back to the Memphis community. Radhika partnered with Susan Helms, Le Bonheur’s director of Injury Prevention and Safe Kids Mid-South, to develop programs to reduce bicycle injuries. The pair based their work on hospital data – between 2010 and 2015, 300 children suffered a head injury as a result of a bicycle accident. Very few of these children were wearing helmets, just like Radhika’s story.

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Through her scholarship, Radhika was awarded $5,000 to implement programs focused on improving bicycle safety in the region. She partnered with Safe Kids Mid-South to host a bike  rodeo which included a helmet-fitting station and obstacle course designed to teach safe bike riding for more than 100 children.

Radhika and Susan took the project a step further after receiving a grant from  Arts Memphis and the Assisi Foundation  of Memphis to develop a coloring  and activity book, Radhika Takes a Ride. The pair partnered with Memphis College of Art, and the book is now distributed to children at local educational events.