JACKSON, Miss.—After two years of encouraging elementary school students to play it safe, Think First, Methodist Rehabilitation Center’s statewide injury prevention program, is beginning a new campaign—one that combines a safety message with a year-long civics lesson.

The Think First team will run its mascot, Sammy Safety, for Governor, campaigning in elementary schools all across the state. The program hopes to encourage students to become more interested in the way government works, while stressing the importance of injury prevention.

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VICKSBURG, Miss.—Three days a week, Gary Stavely volunteers as a nurses’ aide on the same floor at Methodist Rehabilitation Center where he was a patient himself.

It’s an irony not lost on the young emergency room nurse, who is on the road to recovery after suffering a traumatic brain injury.

“It feels great to be working, but it’s really nice to be doing it here where they cared so much for me already,” Stavely said. “I can return some of the care I got.”

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PICAYUNE, Miss.—Nona Fleming says she believes in miracles.

After surviving a ruptured brain aneurysm and coming out of a five-week-long coma, Fleming is walking and talking at home after her recent release from Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson.

“Most people don’t make it through an aneurysm like mine and most people don’t make it through a coma after five weeks. I’m a double miracle,” said the 54-year-old Picayune resident.

Her family and the health care professionals who worked with her agree.

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JACKSON, Miss.—They are just bits of construction paper and glue but the love shines through.

That’s the message Pauline Seward of Raymond received when she got the construction paper heart last week during her stay at Methodist Rehabilitation Center.

It was one of more than 100 valentines third graders at Jackson Academy made for patients of the hospital.

“I love it. They are so sweet to do this,” Seward said of the students’ efforts.

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JACKSON, Miss.—It’s a moment in her long career that she will never live down.

Lynn Porter was dressed as Sammy Soil and entertaining the crowd at a popular garden festival when her costume’s drawstring pants started to droop.

Porter couldn’t cry for help. “Sammy’s not supposed to talk,” said the education specialist for the Hinds County Soil and Water Conservation District. Nor could she zip into a nearby phone booth; the festival was in the middle of a field. And all her attempts to alert her escort were to no avail.

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JACKSON, Miss.—Methodist Rehabilitation Center has Sammy Safety, a 7-foot-tall 5-year-old with a howdy-there grin and a kid-friendly message about injury prevention.

Mississippi Blood Services has Buddy the Bloodhound, a cuddly canine who helps people feel all warm and fuzzy about giving blood.

And the Central Mississippi Regional Library System has A. Cornelius, a dapper squirrel who wants everyone to go nuts about reading.

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JACKSON, Miss.—Car accidents are the leading cause of death for children ages 4 to 14 and the leading cause of brain injury for all age groups. In an effort to reduce these types of injuries, Think First, Methodist Rehabilitation Center’s statewide safety and injury prevention program, joins with other organizations during Child Passenger Safety Week, Feb. 9-15, to remind parents to protect their children while on the road.

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STAR, Miss.—On a busy morning just two weeks before their prom, about 150 McLaurin High students sat at attention and listened to the speaker in front of them.

It’s rare that teens actually want to be the captive audience of a uniformed police officer but Clinton Police Sgt. Creston Berch has their attention.

“It only takes two seconds to put on a seat belt and prevent an injury that can last the rest of your life,” says Berch.

Berch knows what he’s talking about.

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JACKSON, Miss.—In the past, if Bobby Stigler wanted to check on the progress of the construction he’s overseeing, he’d have had to drive to the Flowood site and direct various contractors from there. But when overseeing construction isn’t your only responsibility, you find ways to do it more efficiently and creatively.

During the building of the Methodist Specialty Care Center, of which Stigler is the project director, contractors and builders are using Internet message boards to coordinate with each other.

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JACKSON, Miss.—Methodist Rehabilitation Center has been named one of only 16 traumatic brain injury model systems in the nation by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. The designation provides a $1,825,000 grant that will allow Methodist researchers to continue brain injury research begun four years ago when the Jackson hospital first became a TBI model system site.

NIDRR has reduced the number of model system grants from 17 to 16 and competition for the designation was intense.

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