A new program designed to assist HS athletes that sustain concussions is being promoted by former professional football player Jerome Bettis and Dicks Sporting goods store.

Nearly 3.8 million youngsters had concussions last year while taking part in sports and recreation. Bettis, a former star running back, is plenty familiar with concussions during a 13-year NFL career. He says he had “three or four that I could say were a problem.”

Bettis, a finalist this year for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, wants those young athletes to have the same sort of care that professional leagues provide. He is a spokesman for PACE (Protecting Athletes Through Concussion Education), a program that provides tests for more than 3,300 middle and high schools. The hope is that 1 million kids will have the exams and learn more.

Dick’s Sporting Goods will sponsor appearances by pro athletes who have experienced concussions.

“When I heard the number, that really did surprise me,” said Bettis, who took part in a demonstration of PACE Tuesday at Dick’s Sporting Goods in White Plains. “You don’t really expect it to be that many.

“And you recognize it is a high number and how important it is for kids and parents to understand the educational aspect of dealing with concussions. That’s not to say these could have been prevented, but the more you know about concussions, the more treatable they are and the more you can prevent it from becoming a major problem in a child’s life.”

PACE is designed to be the largest baseline testing initiative. It uses a computerized system known as ImPACT — Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing. It begins with a 20-minute baseline test administered in preseason and again after an injury to track the possible effects of a concussion. Dick’s will cover the cost for up to 300 athletes per school.