Ont. mom designs helmet for Sikh kids, giving them more safety and freedom

Click to play video: 'Innovation and inclusion: 1st bike helmet designed for Sikh kids in production'
Innovation and inclusion: 1st bike helmet designed for Sikh kids in production
An Ontario mother has designed what's believed to be a first-of-its-kind multisport helmet for Sikh children, which can be worn safely without having to remove religious headwear. Neetu Garcha reports on the potentially life-changing invention, which could bridge safety with diversity. – Jan 9, 2023

Leave it to a mom to get it done.

A Sikh woman from Ontario wanted her three sons to know the joys of bike riding with abandon, but there was a pretty big obstacle standing in her way: She couldn’t find a helmet that would accommodate their turbans.

Young Sikh boys wear a patka — a turban fashioned over their hair’s topknot — but a quick glimpse at any helmet design currently on the market makes it clear that most, if all, available helmets aren’t going to fit safely over a turban or hair bun.

So, Tina Singh came up with her own design.

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In the past, the Brampton, Ont., occupational therapist had resorted to hollowing out the inside of a helmet for her eldest son, Jora, to fit his turban. But, eventually, the 10-year-old wanted to get into jumping off ramps and she knew she needed something more safe.

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So, a few years ago, she found a designer to help her conceptualize a proper helmet for her adventure-loving boys.

“I was put in the position of being an occupational therapist who works in the area of acquired brain injury but not having a helmet that fit my boys properly,” she told Global News.

It took a few tries to get it right, says Singh, but with her job experience, she knew she had to get the design as safe and comfortable as possible.

Singh says she’s received a huge response from other relieved Sikh parents who now have a safer option for their kids.

“They don’t need mom to change the way that they’ve tied their hair or do anything different for them. They can just put it on and go.”

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Her helmets are approved for kids over the age of five and can be used for biking, skateboarding, kick-scootering or rollerblading. They meet the safety requirements of the Consumer Products Safety Commission as well, and last month the helmet received a passing grade from the international testing company SGS.

Singh’s been sharing her design journey on social media. The Instagram page for @sikhhelmets features pictures of her kids proudly wearing their mom’s design.

Now that her helmets are in production, Singh has her sights set on another she’d like to see designed.

“I would love to make one for hockey,” she said, adding that she’s heard a huge demand for hockey helmets from the Sikh community, as helmets are necessary for participation in youth hockey clubs in Canada.

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In 2018, several Canadian provinces enacted special exemptions for adult Sikh men to operate motorcycles without a helmet. In that time, one Canadian company has designed a product called the “Tough Turban” that uses various materials, including non-Newtonian foam that hardens on impact, 3D-printed chainmail and a composite fabric used in bulletproof clothing, to create a turban that can lessen the impact of a motorcycle accident.

Singh says this is the first time in Canadian history that there has been a helmet product designed for Sikh kids.

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