The Singh family in a promotional video for the specially designed Bold Helmets.

This mom couldn’t find sports helmets to accommodate her sons’ Sikh religious requirements, so she designed her own

Many kids’ products on the market are not always inclusive or accommodate unique needs — including religious ones. Ontario mother Tina Singh decided to design sports helmets for her three boys that wouldn’t compromise their Sikh faith — or their safety.

The World

Wearing proper safety equipment while playing sports may seem like a no-brainer. 

But for many kids, basic products that are available on the market don’t always accommodate their unique needs. That includes clothing and gear that takes religious requirements into account.

In Canada, one mother decided that the only way around the dilemma was to find a solution of her own. So, Tina Singh designed a sports helmet that would work for her three boys while allowing them to still practice their Sikh faith.

The Singh family lives in Brampton, Ontario. On one particular day, 10-year-old Jora Singh and his two little brothers would have rather been outdoors riding bikes or skateboarding. But it was freezing, so they agreed to play basketball and ride scooters in the basement instead.

A child wearing a Bold Helmet designed by Tina Singh for Sikh kids.
A child wearing a Bold Helmet designed by Tina Singh for Sikh kids.Courtesy of Tina Singh

Their mother helped Jora adjust his sleek cobalt blue sports helmet she designed — that resembles ones used for skateboarding — but which has an extra dome on top.

As part of Sikh religious obligations, the boys wear their hair in a top knot about two inches high on their heads. And Jora said that regular helmets wouldn’t fit.

“It would hurt a lot sometimes,” Jora said. “And then after that, I just wouldn’t wear a helmet.”

That did not go over well with his mom, who considers safety a top priority. An occupational therapist by profession, Tina Singh knows how serious a head injury can be. In Canada, helmets are mandatory for children’s activities, like cycling and playing baseball.

“We tried sizing up the helmets,” Tina Singh said.

“The EPS foam that’s on the inside, we’ve tried hollowing out. Some people have gone as far as cutting a hole in the helmet.”

But, she explained, “in retrospect, I realized that those actions do compromise the safety or the integrity of the helmet.” 

So, she tried to contact a few specialty helmet makers, but didn’t get a response.

“I didn’t want my kids to have to choose between practicing faith and participating in what they want to participate in.”

Tina Singh, designer of Bold Helmets
A Bold Helmet advertised on www.boldhelmets.com designed by Tina Singh for Sikh children.
A Bold Helmet advertised on www.boldhelmets.com designed by Tina Singh for Sikh children.Courtesy of Tina Singh

“I didn’t want my kids to have to choose between practicing faith and participating in what they want to participate in,” she said.

In the end, she and her husband spent more than $75,000 to come up with this new design of their own, calling it a Bold Helmet.

Jora said that he’s proud of his mom for working to make sports safer for Sikh kids.

“I think it’s really inspiring. For kids like us, to make something that would fit, when it’s not even for herself.”

Beyond the Sikh community

The Singh family hasn’t been alone when it comes to needing specialized gear. There’s been an increasing demand for protective equipment to serve diverse communities.

Shireen Ahmed, a Muslim mother of four and a sports journalist, has been part of an ongoing struggle to make sports more inclusive.

“There should always be the choice,” Ahmed said. “And that was lacking for a very long time.”

In professional sports, she said, athletes have had to fight for the right to wear religious clothing, like hijabs for Muslim women or swim caps that fit over Black hair.

She added that, in amateur sport, manufacturers still cater to the mainstream, giving the excuse that the adapted equipment is unsafe.

“It’s almost like everyone else is an afterthought. And when it comes to a safety perspective, I find it worrisome.”

Shireen Ahmed, Muslim mother and sports journalist

“It’s almost like everyone else is an afterthought. And when it comes to a safety perspective, I find it worrisome.”

Tina Singh said the first batch of their helmets should be ready for sale in Canada sometime next month, with their website advertising that pre-orders are also available for the US.

Related: Saudi cyclist says it takes a ‘brave heart’ to normalize the sport for women

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