Summer safety program brought to Fulton County

Campers as well as other attendees listen as Sen. James Tedisco speaks from a podium (at right) during the launch of the 2017 Safe Summer Bike Helmet program at the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts in the town of Mayfield on Thursday. (The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan)

MAYFIELD — In its 20th year, state Sen. Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, on Thursday brought his Safe Summer Bike Helmet Safety Program to Fulton County for the first time.

The setting was the Mayfield Summer Recreation Camp for children at the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts on Route 30.

Tedisco is partnerning with local officials, the Fulton County sheriff and several area police departments to distribute thousands of Safe Summer “good tickets” for free ice cream to reward children who wear their helmets while bicycling, skateboarding and rollerblading. He also wants to give free bike helmets to kids who need one.

“You kids are going to get a ticket, but you’re going to get good tickets,” Tedisco told the children.

One female bicycling camper said children should wear their bike helmets “so they don’t get hurt on their head.”

Camper Abby Belknap eat ice cream provided by the Stewart's Shop Company during the launch of the 2017 Safe Summer Bike Helmet program at the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts in the town of Mayfield on Thursday. (The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan)

“This is a positive reinforcement program,” Tedisco said. “Everybody should wear a [bike] helmet when they want to be safe.”

Several state and local political and business leaders stressed the importance of children riding their bicycles with helmets on. Following the program, a helmeted Tedisco led the kids on a bike ride, doing a few loops through the arts center lot. Afterwards, they all enjoyed ice cream donated by Stewart’s.

The senator, along with other local dignitaries, even scooped the free ice cream cones. The frozen treats were a way to incentivize Fulton County kids to wear bike helmets for safety.

“We have a wonderful community,” Tedisco said.

Also on hand were officials from Lexington ARC, Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino, village of Mayfield Mayor Jamie Ward, also a district manager for Stewart’s Shop; and Gloversville 4th Ward Supervisor Charles Potter.

Sen. James Tedisco, center, leads the way as he rides his bicycle wearing a safety helmet during the launch of the 2017 Safe Summer Bike Helmet program at the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts in the town of Mayfield on Thursday.

“It’s very nice to see all the public safety offices come together,” Potter said. “Safety has to be first.”

Ward told the children that anyone who thinks it’s “not cool” to wear a bike helmet should look at the helmeted area bike police in attendance Thursday.

The helmet program is assisted by Capital District law firm Martin, Harding & Mazzotti LLP; and Stewart’s Shops & Friendly’s Restaurants. Martin, Harding and Mazzotti donates hundreds of new bike helmets to police departments in Tedisco’s 49th Senate District to distribute to children who need them.

“We see a lot of bad things happen,” firm attorney Daniel Dagostino told the children.

But he said they can do their part by staying safe and wearing bike helmets.

The senator noted 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.

According to the 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.

Tedisco’s office says the cost of a bicycle helmet is approximately $20. But 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, a release indicated. In New York state, annual hospitalization charges related to care for persons with a bicycle related brain injury is $20 million.

Tedisco thanked all the people involved in his bicycle safety program.

“A program like this isn’t successful unless it is a team approach,” he said.

He also thanked the kids, who he said can be “soldiers in the street,” spreading the word to wear a helmet, including their parents.

Tedisco also demonstrated the right way to put on a bike helmet: flat on the head, buckled up, and not too tight or loose.

Giardino told the kids that if they don’t have a helmet, they should go to the sheriff’s department or nearest police station and they will be given one.

Herkimer County Sheriff Christopher Farber told the children: “This is a good thing for you to wear your helmet.”

“It’s very, very important to be safe when you’re riding on your bicycles,” Gloversville police Chief Marc Porter added.

Wally Hart, Lexington’s division director for business and community development, stated: “Obviously, safety is our number one priority here at Lexington.”

The Safe Summer program is also made possible thanks to donations from participating businesses such as: Hayner’s Ice Cream Hall of Fame in Halfmoon and Ben & Jerry’s.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

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