CARE for Children, the lead agency for Safe Kids Pennsylvania - McKean County Partner, joined together with the Kane Area School District to promote bicycle safety and properly fit approximately 70 Kindergarten students with free bicycle helmets on Friday. Grant funding for the helmets was provided by the PA Department of Health Preventative Health and Health Services Block Grant through Safe Kids Pennsylvania and the Kane United Fund. CARE will also conduct the bicycle safety program in the Smethport Area School District, Port Allegany School District, Otto-Eldred School District, and Bradford Area School District throughout the month of May, distributing approximately 450 bicycle helmets in total.
Kimberly Engstrom, M.Ed., CARE preschool director and bike safety educator, talked to Kindergarten students at Kane Elementary School about bicycle safety and the importance of wearing helmets including wearing bright colors; using hand signals; watching for traffic lights and stop signs; and always wearing a helmet. Engstrom also demonstrated how to properly wear a helmet and fasten the chin strap.
“Helmets provide protection from head and brain injury when children are riding bikes, scooters, skateboards etc., and a helmet is most effective when fit properly. When parents reinforce helmet use; children are more likely to use this injury preventing safety item,” Engstrom added.
Several CARE staff members as well as volunteers from the Safe Kids Pennsylvania-McKean County Partner Advisory Committee assisted in fitting the helmets. In addition to the helmets, students received a bicycle safety checklist and an emergency contact identification sticker for parents to complete and place inside the helmet.
According to Safe Kids Worldwide, properly-fitted helmets can reduce the risk of head injuries by at least 45 percent; however, less than half of children age 14 and under usually wear a bike helmet.
Pennsylvania’s mandatory bicycle helmet law requires children under age 12 must wear a helmet while riding a bicycle, or while a passenger in a bicycle restraining seat or trailer. Children’s toys known as “big wheels” are excluded. The bike helmet law is intended to encourage children to wear helmets. People cited for violating the law will have their citation dismissed if they buy a helmet.
Safe Kids Pennsylvania – McKean County Partner is a collaborative effort of local organizations, businesses, and individuals who support child safety and injury prevention efforts targeted to local needs. CARE for Children provides the leadership and fiscal oversight and support of the program. Local Safe Kids programs are supported by the CARE for Children Trust, United Way of the Bradford Area, Inc. funding, grants, sponsorships and individual donations. For more information visit www.careforchildren.info.
Photo Caption: Ann Kane, PT, right, and Kimberly Engstrom, M.Ed., left, of CARE for Children, fit bicycle helmets on Kindergarten students at Kane Elementary School.