Injury Prevention

Peer-to-Peer Road Safety

By: Amy Watkins, MPH

Watch for Me CT, a partnership between the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Office and Connecticut Children’s Injury Prevention Center, is wrapping up an exciting youth-led bicycle and pedestrian safety program, held over the summer in Hartford.

The program received a $25,000 grant from the Governors Highway Safety Association and the National Road Safety Foundation to further its ongoing efforts to reduce traffic crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists, specifically among teens. For this grant, Watch for Me CT partnered with youth in the Hartford Yard Goats Young Ambassadors Program, an afterschool initiative run by the Hartford Yard Goats, which is a minor league affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. The teens learned about bicycle and pedestrian safety and were coached on how to bring this safety information to their peers.

The grant allowed the youth ambassadors, along with staff, to provide bicycle helmets, bike lights, and educational materials to residents living in Hartford and beyond. The team gave away nearly 400 helmets at over nine events throughout the summer. Those events included DominGO, Hartford’s first open streets initiative, and support to specific Hartford neighborhoods. In addition, community health and wellness events in the north end of Hartford at Parker Memorial and Keney Park, and in the south end of Hartford in support of the Maple Avenue Revitalization Group (MARG), provided an opportunity to reach hundreds of families.

Bicycle Skills Day, a bicycle “rodeo” for children in Hartford’s north end, proved to be a highlight of the summer. Held at the Fred D. Wish Museum School on Barbour Street on July 20, children of all ages were invited to practice basic bicycle skills, such as signaling, maneuvering, avoiding hazards and scanning. More than 30 children attended and each child received a helmet, a bicycle light and safety information. Around 20 lucky kids received free bicycles, which were donated by South Windsor-based Recycled Rides Project. The City of Hartford’s Department of Health and Human Services and the Hartford Police Department partnered with Watch for Me CT to help make it a successful day!

Read additional articles on the Advancing Kids Blog related to injury prevention.

In addition to events, the program supplied helmets to families by appointment, back to school raffles, and to the Burgdorf Clinic in Hartford.

Watch for Me CT is so grateful to the Governors Highway Safety Association and the National Road Safety Foundation for their generous support of bicycle and pedestrian safety in Hartford. We thank all of our partners for supporting these efforts, especially the Hartford Yard Goats Young Ambassadors Program and the Connecticut Department of Transportation, which has just provided another $380,000 in funding for Watch for Me CT to continue another year. Through community collaboration, we can hopefully reduce injury and death on our roads.

Amy Watkins, MPH, is the director of Safe Kids Connecticut, which is a program of Connecticut Children’s Injury Prevention Center.

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