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CARE for Children Presents Bicycle Safety Program in McKean County

CARE for Children, the lead agency for Safe Kids Pennsylvania - McKean County Partner, joined together with five school districts in McKean County to promote bicycle safety and properly fit 371 Kindergarten students with free bicycle helmets throughout April and May.  Grant funding for the helmets was provided by the PA Department of Health Preventative Health and Health Services Block Grant through Safe Kids Pennsylvania, the Port Allegany and Smethport Campaigns for United Way, and the Kane United Fund. 

The Kindergarten Bicycle Safety Program was held at George G. Blaisdell Elementary School, Kane Elementary School, Otto-Eldred Elementary School, Port Allegany Elementary School, and Smethport Elementary School.

Kimberly Engstrom, M.Ed., CARE preschool director and bike safety educator, talked to Kindergarten students 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.  The Kindergarten program aims to educate students at an earlier age about the importance of bicycle safety and help reinforce helmet use,” Engstrom noted. 

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.

CARE’s Kindergarten Bicycle Safety Program has been in place since 2016 and has provided bicycle safety education and free, properly-fit bike helmets to approximately 2,200 Kindergarten students in McKean County.

If parents or caregivers need a bicycle helmet for their child, please contact CARE for Children at 814-362-4621 to set-up an appointment.

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

Photo Caption:  Janel Weber, M.S., CCC-SLP, at right, of CARE for Children, fits a bicycle helmet on Abbie Simpson, age 6, a Kindergarten student at Port Allegany Elementary School.