May is National Kids Safety Month. We’re kicking it off with a new child safety program in Bridgeport: our “Heads Up For Safety” free bike helmet campaign! According to Safe Kids Connecticut, the most common reason for emergency room visits among children ages 5 to 14 are biking-related injuries – more than any other sport. Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of brain injury by 88 percent but unfortunately, only 45 percent of children 14 and under wear a helmet.
Heads Up For Safety in Bridgeport
We are hitting the streets of Bridgeport with a new child safety program called “Heads Up For Safety”. Funded by a coalition of area public and private stakeholders, the program is spearheaded by Trantolo & Trantolo, in partnership with Safe Kids Connecticut and the Bridgeport Police Department.
“The goal of ‘Heads Up For Safety’ is to reduce youth head injuries, by distributing a minimum of 1,000 free bike helmets to Bridgeport youth and educating kids and parents about street and bike safety,” said Luis Rivera, Director of Safe Kids Connecticut, which is part of Connecticut Children’s Medical Center’s Injury Prevention Center. “Although May is National Kids Safety Month, ‘Heads Up For Safety’ is an on-going program.”
Initially, “Heads Up For Safety” will be focused on kids in elementary school and will then expand to middle school-aged children.
How Does the Program Work?
The program features a unique “street-smart” component.
“There is no fine nor citation associated with the Connecticut bike helmet law. So when our officers spot a helmetless rider we’ll ‘ticket’ the rider. The ‘ticket’ is a redeemable coupon for a new bike helmet, which our officers will properly fit for each child right on the spot,” said BPD Chief Perez. “We’ll also reward youth riders already wearing a helmet with another kind of ticket – free tickets to Bridgeport Sound Tigers hockey games.”
Each helmet will have a reflective “Heads Up For Safety” decal, recognizing the key stakeholders. All helmets will be properly fitted by the Bridgeport Police Department.
Brain injuries can be devastating for children and their families. Fortunately, many of these injuries can be prevented by wearing properly-fitted helmets. The great thing about this event is that it has the potential to save lives – Dr. Matt Carlson, Trauma Medical Director, St. Vincent’s Medical Center.
Heads Up For Safety Events
To announce “Heads Up For Safety”, the Office of the Mayor hosted a “Heads Up For Safety Trike Race”, featuring Bridgeport Police Department Chief Armando J. “AJ” Perez, Bridgeport Fire Department Chief Richard Thode, Bridgeport Sound Tigers Assistant Coach Matt Carkner, St. Vincent’s Medical Center Chairperson of Surgical Services Dr. Anthy Demestihas and Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim.
“The City of Bridgeport is proud of its leadership role in ‘Heads Up For Safety’ with the expectation this program will be used as a model for other Connecticut cities and towns. I am pleased to see this public-private collaboration to help prevent injuries to Bridgeport children,” said Mayor Ganim.
“Heads Up For Safety” will also begin a series of bicycle safety rodeos with the Bridgeport Police Department Bike Safety Rodeo on May 19th for 5th and 6th graders at Cesar A. Batalla West Elementary School in Bridgeport. The public is invited but as spots are limited, participation for 5th and 6th graders is on a ‘first come first served’ basis and registration is required through Cesar A. Batalla School.
Throughout summer and fall, the Bridgeport Police Department will be scheduling future Bike Safety Rodeos for the public. To learn more, visit HeadsUp4SafetyCT.com.
Working together we are hopeful of distributing and fitting more than 1,000 free bike helmets to Bridgeport kids and hopefully we can start cutting down the number of youth bike injuries occurring in Bridgeport – Keith Trantolo of Trantolo & Trantolo.