Applying learning directly from a legal Torts class can appear challenging at first glance.
“Tort law deals with civil offenses that cause harm to persons and property,” explains Paralegal Chair at Minnesota Business-St. Cloud Joseph Bazan. It also involves a lot of case study and reading. “To see the application of tort law to real-world scenarios,” he continues, “I developed the idea of exploring bicycle helmet safety as an
advocacy project due to my unscientific observations that very few people were wearing helmets when cycling.”
Over a period of years, the service project was refined until it took final shape this quarter with the LA 180 Torts class partnering with the City of Waite Park’s Bike Rodeo, an annual event sponsored by the police department where free bicycle helmets are handed out to area children.
MSB paralegal students researched and prepared a brochure that described staggering statistics about bicycle accidents in the state and nationwide.
“Our goals were to educate parents and their children of the importance of wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle,” said Erin Hale. “It also helps reduce accidents and prevent civil offenses that award damages to make an injured person whole again.”
Students volunteered at the bike rodeo throughout the afternoon, handing out the brochures they’d compiled and assisting children on the bike safety course. They estimated reaching about 30 families. They also talked to parents and kids about the importance of wearing helmets, and that was sometimes a challenge, admitted Hale, especially with “a few stubborn children that thought helmets were ‘uncool.'”
“We hope parents take the time to absorb the statistics in
the brochure and pass along good safety values to their children,” stressed Bazan.
Merri Scheeler, a Legal Association student, participated in and enjoyed the event. “The highlight for me was getting so see all the little kids that came and how excited they were to get helmets and coloring books.”
As an instructor, Bazan was gratified to see the results of the project.
“I found the research illuminating because it helped students understand that real-world scenarios, like one form of vehicle-related injury, can have high costs and that many injuries may occur where we least expect them to occur.”
For this class of Paralegal students, Tort law became very real and meaningful in the hands (and pedaling feet) of children.