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MRC News

Published on February 2, 2002
Jim Albritton
Health and Research News Service

JACKSON, Miss.—Mississippi school children are encouraged to participate in a statewide poster contest designed to teach them to think first about safety and injury prevention. The contest, with the theme "Safety is Cool," is sponsored by Think First, Methodist Rehabilitation Center’s statewide injury prevention program.

Fourth and fifth grade students in all Mississippi schools may enter the contest which encourages them to wear seat belts, safety helmets and other protective gear.

"Children are at highest risk for brain and spinal cord injuries and we hope this contest will teach them to think about what they’re doing before they get into any potentially dangerous situation," said Think First director Lauren Fairburn.

Fairburn says students will be asked to watch a safety video before designing their posters. First place winners from participating schools will receive a bike helmet and second and third place winners will receive T-shirts and reflectors. All first place winners will compete for a new bicycle in the statewide contest.

Dr. Rahul Vohra, Methodist Rehab’s medical director, hopes this contest will also encourage parents to buy protective gear for their children before allowing them to ride bikes, scooters, skateboards or roller blades.

"Last year more than 26,000 children who weren’t wearing helmets or knee or elbow pads were treated in emergency rooms because of scooter-related injuries alone," said Dr. Vohra.

Fairburn says the poster contest is an important part of Methodist Rehab’s injury prevention program. "Throughout the year we work closely with schools, paramedics, police officers and firefighters across the state to prevent childhood injuries," said Fairburn.

Each year an estimated 580,000 cyclists are treated in emergency rooms and more than 20,000 others are admitted to hospitals. Dr. Vohra says wearing bike helmets can reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent and the risk of brain injury by as much as 88 percent.

Schools interested in participating in the poster contest should contact Fairburn at 601-364-3451. The registration deadline is Feb. 25. More information about Think First and the poster contest is available online at