Protect the Melon! logo

The Morgan County Medical Society and Passavant Area Hospital are partnering with the Jacksonville Park Foundation and Illinois College Professor Dr. Jeremy Turner to give away helmets to every fourth grade student in Jacksonville.

The Protect the Melon! campaign encourages youth to wear a helmet when biking, roller skating, riding a scooter, skateboarding or any other wheeled activity. “The importance of wearing a helmet has been shown to save lives and protect against brain injuries,” said Dr. Turner. “Being active is essential to being a healthy child, and with that comes falls and tumbles.”

Illinois College psychology students have been presenting the brain awareness program and giving away bicycle helmets to fourth graders at Lincoln Elementary for a number of years. Jacksonville Park Foundation founding board member Harry Ford had the idea to expand the program to all the schools in the community. This is the second year all 350-plus fourth graders in Jacksonville public and private schools will receive helmets.

fitting helmet on student

Illinois College student JJ Wang fits helmet during Protect the Melon 2014 at Lincoln Elementary School.

On Thursday, April 9, Illinois College students will travel to District 117 schools to give a lesson on how the brain works, show how a melon with and without a helmet fares when hitting the pavement, and distribute the helmets. Distribution to Our Saviour School, Salem Lutheran School, Westfair Christian Academy and Illinois School for the Deaf will be at a later date.

Links, tips and information on being a Melonhead is available at

Test your knowledge and learn about relevant laws and skills – for both bicyclists and motorists – in the bicycle safety quiz challenge at

The Jacksonville Park Foundation is working with the Pilot Club, Helmets First!, the Illinois College Psychology Club and others in the community to fund the program for future years. Contact Foundation President Steve Warmowski via to help.

The Jacksonville Park Foundation focuses on health, recreation and families. Volunteers in the group have started several initiatives to improve the quality of life in the Jacksonville community such as its youth health via the Jacksonville Children’s Garden; advocating for a bridge and path at Lake Jacksonville and a Town Brook recreational trail; and park enhancements. The foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization and is solely reliant on private funding.

You can contribute by making a check out to Jacksonville Park Foundation and mailing to Laura Marks/JPF Treasurer, Jacksonville Savings Bank, 1211 W. Morton Ave., Jacksonville, IL 62650.

professor holds melon fitted with helmet

Illinois College Psychology Professor Jeremy Turner prepares to drop a melon fitted with a helmet during Protect the Melon! 2014 at North Elementary School.

Group photo of kids with new helmets

Students at Murrayville-Woodson Elementary School with their new helmets last year. Fourth graders at all Jacksonville schools will receive helmets again this year thanks to Morgan County Medical Society and Passavant Area Hospital.

2015 Passavant-Gatorade 5K & 10K is Saturday May 30