CLIFTON PARK-- Exercise safely this summer and get free ice cream to beat the heat. That’s the goal of the innovative Safe Summer Bike Helmet program founded by Senator Jim Tedisco (R,C-Glenville) which kicked off today for its 23rd year. Senator Tedisco joined with Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo, Clifton Park Supervisor Phil Barrett and Saratoga County Clerk and owner of Hayner’s Ice Cream Hall of Fame Craig Hayner, to lead the Southern Saratoga County YMCA’s summer camp attendees in a bike ride and then scooped free ice cream cones donated by Stewart’s Shops.
This year, Senator Tedisco’s Safe Summer Program will distribute 5,000 “good tickets” for free ice cream cones to 22 police departments to reward children who wear their helmets while bicycling, skateboarding, and rollerblading, and give free bike helmets to kids who need one.
Tedisco’s program uses positive reinforcement to get all neighborhood kids into the habit of wearing their helmets for safe biking and promotes positive interactions between children and law enforcement. The Safe Summer program is made possible thanks to donations from participating businesses: Stewart’s Shops, Friendly’s, Hayner’s Ice Cream Hall of Fame in Halfmoon and Ben & Jerry’s. The law firm of Martin, Harding and Mazzotti LLP is donating hundreds of new bike helmets to police departments in the 49th Senate District to distribute to children who need them.
“Summer is the season for kids to have fun but we can’t ever forget that they need to keep safety in mind. 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 reminds kids to wear their helmets while rewarding good behavior with coupons for free ice cream,” said Senator Tedisco. “This program is a true 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.”
It’s the law in New York State that children up to age 14 must wear a bicycle helmet or parents could face $50 fine. According to the New York State Department of Health, an average of 54 New Yorkers are killed each year in bicycle crashes and 19,000 residents are treated at a hospital due to bike-related injuries. Head injuries are the leading cause of death and permanent disability in bicycle crashes, accounting for more than 60 percent of bike-related deaths. The cost of a bicycle helmet is approximately $20.00. The average charge for a hospital stay due to a bicycle related brain injury is $23,000 with an average length of stay of four days. In New York, annual hospitalization charges related to care for persons with a bicycle related brain injury is $20 million. When fitted properly, bicycle helmets can reduce the risk of head injuries by 85 percent and traumatic brain injuries by 88 percent.
Senator Tedisco’s Safe Summer Program aims to address these 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.
“The safety of our children is priority number one. The Safe Summer Bike Helmet Program allows us to pass on simple, yet effective ways to teach kids how to safely handle their bicycles in a fun atmosphere. I want to thank Senator Tedisco for his leadership in offering this program to help protect our kids each and every year,” said Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo.
“Senator Tedisco's Safe Summer kickoff program is a fun event that reminds children about the importance of wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle this summer. With school now in summer recess, motorists should be especially mindful to slow down and anticipate children and adults riding their bikes along and near our busy roadways. Many thanks to Senator Tedisco for putting together this important educational event,” said Saratoga County Clerk Craig Hayner who oversees the Saratoga County Department of Motor Vehicle Offices. He, along with his wife Carolyn are owners of Hayner’s Ice Cream Hall of Fame in Halfmoon, NY.
“The Safe Summer Program kick-off is an event that we look forward to every year! Ice cream is always a treat, and if cone certificates can encourage kids to practice bike safety, this is cause we are happy to support!” said Erica Komoroske, Stewart’s Shops Director of Public Affairs.
“We very excited to be part of Senator Tedisco’s Safe Summer program, it really is a fantastic way to raise awareness about bicycle safety in our communities. Providing helmets for children who need them and helping promote positive interactions between civilians and law enforcement, plays an important role in protecting and strengthening our communities. Summer is a wonderful time of year, we hope that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy it to the fullest and if Martin, Harding & Mazzotti can play a small role in that, we’re honored to do it,” said Daniel Dagostino, Supervising Attorney.
“Safety, especially with children, is a high priority within our childcare programs. We at the YMCA remain committed to providing children a safe and healthy space to learn and grow. At the Southern Saratoga YMCA we serve over 500 children daily in our after-school programs and 180 children weekly for our summer camp program. This past year through all the struggles and obstacles we did not forget to stay true to this commitment to our community. The Safe Summer Program is a fun way to remind children to be safe this summer and wear their helmets when riding their bikes. We are proud to partner with Senator Jim Tedisco and his Safe Summer Bike Helmet Safety Program. Thank you to Martin, Harding & Mazzotti for donating the helmets and Stewart’s for providing the ice cream,” said Rachel Bonacquisti, Regional Childcare Director of the Southern Saratoga YMCA.
Participating police departments that will distribute free ice cream coupons and bike helmets to kids include: Saratoga County Sheriff, Schenectady County Sheriff, Fulton County Sheriff, Hamilton County Sheriff, Herkimer County Sheriff, Ballston Spa Police, Broadalbin Police, Clifton Park Town Security, Glenville Police, Gloversville Police, Indian Lake Police, Inlet Police, Johnstown Police, Niskayuna Police, Northville Police, Rensselaer Police, Rotterdam Police, Saratoga Springs Police, City of Schenectady Police, Scotia Police, Stillwater Police, and Webb Police.