LITTLE ROCK, AR. (Nov. 16, 2018) – The family of skateboarder John Barker, a Little Rock native who died in 2017 after a traumatic brain injury sustained in a skateboarding fall, has developed an initiative with the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Injury Prevention Center to distribute helmets to skateboarders at no cost.

Skateboarders can access the helmets by visiting

At an event at Little Rock’s Kanis Skatepark, the Barker family encouraged skateboarders to take advantage of the opportunity in their son’s memory.

 “We want to protect young people’s lives and health, and to spare other families the loss we have experienced,” said John’s mother, Patty Barker.

Skateboarding injuries have increased as the sport has become more popular and competitive, and as complexity of stunts and skateboard construction materials have evolved.

In 2015, more than 125,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms after being injured skateboarding. More than half of those injured were ages 14 to 24, and about one-third were between the ages of 5 and 14, according to Injury Facts 2017, the annual statistical report on unintentional injuries produced by the National Safety Council. The most serious of these cases were traumatic brain injuries.

“We can prevent the most serious traumatic brain injuries in skateboard crashes with the simple act of wearing a helmet,” said Mary Aitken, MD, FAAP, director of the Injury Prevention Center at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and a professor of Pediatrics in the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Medicine. “We’re grateful that the Barker family is helping us reach the skateboarding community directly with this important message.”

On March 30, 2017, John Patrick Barker suffered a severe traumatic brain injury after a skateboarding fall in San Francisco, Cali., at the intersection of 33rd Ave. and Clement St. No other vehicles or people were involved. Two days later, he passed away from the injuries he sustained.

John was only 20 years old. Growing up in Little Rock, he was a graduate of Central High School as a member of the Cum Laude Society and the National Honor Society. He won the “Most School Spirit” award for his senior class and received a scholarship to attend the University of San Francisco.

To prevent future injuries and deaths from skateboarding and reduce risks associated with skateboarding injuries, the Barker family established a helmet and education fund in his memory through the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Injury Prevention Center. 

Some of these funds have been used to create a website designed to place helmets in the hands of skateboarders at no cost:

Those who would like to donate a gift to Arkansas Children’s in honor of John Barker or support the initiative can call 1-800-880-7491 or visit

About Arkansas Children’s

Arkansas Children’s, Inc. is the only health care system in the state solely dedicated to caring for children, which allows the organization to uniquely shape the landscape of pediatric care in Arkansas. The system includes a 336-bed hospital in Little Rock with the state’s only pediatric Level 1 Trauma Center, burn center, Level 4 neonatal intensive care and pediatric intensive care, and research institute as well as a nationally-recognized transport service. It is one of the 25 largest children’s hospitals in the United States and is nationally ranked by U.S. News World & Report in cardiology/heart surgery, neurology/neurosurgery, nephrology and pulmonology. Arkansas Children’s Northwest in Springdale includes 233,613 square feet of inpatient beds, emergency care, clinic rooms and diagnostic services. Arkansas Children’s also blankets the state with outreach programs that include telemedicine, mobile health and school-based health solutions. A private nonprofit, Arkansas Children’s boasts an internationally renowned reputation for medical breakthroughs and intensive treatments, unique surgical procedures and forward-thinking research and is committed to providing every child with access to the best care available, regardless of location or resources. Founded as an orphanage, Arkansas Children’s has championed children by making them better today and healthier tomorrow for more than 100 years. For more info, visit

About UAMS

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS’ clinical enterprise including its hospital, regional clinics and clinics it operates or staffs in cooperation with other providers. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. U.S. News & World Report named UAMS Medical Center the state’s Best Hospital; ranked its ear, nose and throat program among the top 50 nationwide; and named six areas as high performing — cancer, colon cancer surgery, heart failure, hip replacement, knee replacement and lung cancer surgery. UAMS has 2,727 students, 870 medical residents and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.