Safe Summer Program for kids to wear bike helmets kicks off for its 25th year – Saratogian

BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. — State Sen. Jim Tedisco’s Safe Summer Bike Helmet program recently celebrated its 25th anniversary of keeping Saratoga and Schenectady County kids safe.

The goal is simple to exercise safely this summer and to get free ice cream to beat the heat.

Tedisco joined with Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo, Saratoga County Clerk and owner of Hayner’s Ice Cream and Country Store Craig Hayner, Milton Town Supervisor Scott Ostrander and Ballston Spa Mayor Frank Rossi, Jr., to lead Milton summer camp attendees in a bike ride and then scooped free ice cream donated by Stewart’s Shops.

“Summer is the season for kids to have fun but we can’t ever forget that they need to keep safety in mind,” Tedisco said in a press release. “I want children to enjoy the summer, but I also want them to be safe when they’re riding their bicycles. My Safe Summer program, now its 25th year, reminds kids to wear their helmets while rewarding good behavior with coupons for free ice cream.

“This program is a community partnership among businesses, law enforcement, government and parents and it’s truly a model for how caring people can come together and promote a fun and safe environment for children. Safe Summer also provides positive interactions between law enforcement and kids.”

This year, the Safe Summer Program distributed 5,000 “good tickets” for free ice cream cones to 12 police departments to reward children who wear their helmets while bicycling, skateboarding, and rollerblading, and give free bike helmets to kids who need one.

Participating police departments that distributed free ice cream coupons and bike helmets to kids include the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department, Schenectady County Sheriff’s Department, Ballston Spa Police, Clifton Park Town Security, Mechanicville Police, Niskayuna Police, City of Rensselaer Police, Saratoga Springs Police, City of Schenectady Police, South Glens Falls Police, Stillwater Police and Waterford Police.

Coupons were also distributed to the Southern Saratoga YMCA.

“The safety of our children is priority number one,” Zurlo said in the release. “The Safe Summer Bike Helmet Program allows us to pass on simple, yet effective ways to teach kids how to safely handle their bicycles, scooters and skateboards in a fun atmosphere. I want to thank Senator Tedisco for his leadership these past 25 years in helping to protect our kids and encouraging them to have positive interactions with law enforcement.”

The Safe Summer program is made possible thanks to donations from participating businesses Stewart’s Shops, Hayner’s Ice Cream and Country Store in Halfmoon, Ben & Jerry’s and Friendly’s.

“Stewart’s Shops is very excited to be a part of this fantastic event again this year,’ Stewart’s Shops president, Gary Dake, said. “Bike Safety is extremely important, especially for kids. We’re absolutely thrilled to be part of the fun, rewarding kids for their safe biking efforts with some delicious ice cream.”

The law firm of Harding and Mazzotti LLP donated hundreds of new bike helmets to police departments in Saratoga and Schenectady Counties to distribute to children who need them.

“Harding (and) Mazzotti is proud to continue our years-long partnership with Senator Tedisco and his Safe Summer program,”  Daniel Dagostino, Supervising Attorney at Harding and Mazzotti, LLP, said in the release. “For as long as it has been running, the program has been a fun way to raise awareness about bike safety in our local neighborhoods, provide helmets for children who need them, and promote positive interactions between people and local law enforcement, which is instrumental in strengthening our communities.

“We hope everyone can enjoy their summer to the fullest, and if Harding Mazzotti can play a small role in that, we always appreciate the opportunity to do it.”

It’s the law in New York State that children up to age 14 must wear a bicycle helmet or parents could face a $50 fine. The average charge for a hospital stay due to a bicycle related brain injury is $18,900 with an average length of stay of four days. The cost of a bicycle helmet is about $30.00.

Bicycle helmets have been shown to reduce the risk of head injury by 60 percent and brain injury by 58 percent. It’s estimated that 75 percent of bike-related fatalities among children could be prevented with a helmet and universal use of bicycle helmets by children ages 4 to 15 could prevent between 135 and 155 deaths, between 39,000 and 45,000 head injuries, and between 18,000 and 55,000 scalp and face injuries annually.

Tedisco’s Safe Summer Program aims to address the alarming statistics by using positive reinforcement to get all neighborhood kids into the habit of wearing their helmets for safe biking, in-line skating or riding a skateboard or scooter.

Senator Jim Tedisco and Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo presenting Grace Hinkley of Milton with a bike helmet donated by Harding and Mazzotti, LLP, and a coupon for a free ice cream at Stewart’s Shops. (photo provided)
L-R: Claire Flannery of Stewart’s Shops, Ballston Spa Police Chief David Bush, Saratoga County Clerk and Owner of Hayner’s Ice Cream & Country Store Craig Hayner, Milton Councilwoman Barbara Kerr, Senator Tedisco holding up “good tickets” for free ice cream, Milton Supervisor Scott Ostrander, Saratoga County Undersheriff Jeffrey Brown, Ballston Spa Village Trustee Bernadette Vandeinse. (Photo Provided)

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