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MRC News

Published on June 19, 2001
Collin Johnson
Health and Research News Service

JACKSON, Miss.—Tom Burnley, who suffered a spinal cord injury in a workplace accident, will speak to children at the Jackson Public Schools Environmental Learning Center at 6190 Highway 18 in Jackson on Wednesday, June 20, at 1 p.m.

Burnley, a former patient and volunteer at Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson, will speak as part of Think First, a Methodist Rehab-sponsored injury prevention program aimed at young children and teenagers that tries to prevent spinal cord, brain and other traumatic injuries by focusing on bicycle, automobile, firearm, boat, swimming and diving safety.

“Think First speakers volunteer their time to encourage others to wear safety belts when driving, helmets when riding bicycles and motorcycles and to think about what they’re doing before they get into any potentially dangerous situation,” said Lauren Fairburn, Methodist Rehab’s Think First coordinator.

“We want to work closely with schools and other health care professionals to do all we can to prevent traumatic, often life-changing injuries. Students are very responsive when they meet our speakers. They really seem to understand the message and we hope they learn to think first about safety and injury prevention.”

Each year an estimated 500,000 people sustain brain and spinal cord injuries in the United States. The most frequent causes of these injuries are automobile crashes, falls, athletic injuries, especially diving, and violence. Children and teens are at high-risk for these devastating injuries, many of which are preventable.

Think First speakers, including accident victims, physical therapists, paramedics and physicians, are available to speak to assemblies at elementary and high schools in central Mississippi. Call 601-364-3451 for more information about Think First.