Traumatic injuries are the leading cause of death among teens - in fact, teens and young adults are in the highest risk group for injuries. The most frequent causes are motor vehicle crashes, violence, falls and sports and recreation. Among the most serious injuries are those to the brain and spinal cord, often leading to long term or permanent disabilities that can affect a person's thinking, speaking, ability to walk, move or even breathe as they could before the injury. The majority of these injuries are preventable when people use basic safety precautions.
ThinkFirst For Teens, a program of the ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation, is an award-winning public education effort targeting this high risk age group. ThinkFirst chapters across the United States and in many other countries present compelling educational presentations at no charge for junior and senior high schools, as well as for colleges and after-school programs. Health educators and VIP speakers - Voices for Injury Prevention - explain how injuries occur, how they affect the body and how they can be prevented. Students learn that one poor choice can change your life forever, so it is each person's responsibility to cut the risk for injury to themselves and others by making safe choices.
ThinkFirst For Teens is usually presented at no charge (though donations are welcome!) to students in either assembly or classroom formats. Please check with your local chapter for any fees/travel expenses. The presentation includes:
- A new 10-minute film for fall 2019, "Decisions Matter," features personal testimony from ThinkFirst VIP speakers who have sustained a brain or spinal cord injury. The various circumstances surrounding their injuries portray situations any teen could be faced with, leading the viewer to consider their own actions.
- A discussion of the anatomy of the brain and spinal cord, how injuries to these parts of the body occur, the physical results of injury, and how many of these injuries can be prevented. Understanding the frequency and permanence of these injuries helps cultivate a respectful understanding of the need for prevention. There is a strong emphasis on traffic safety, as this is the leading cause of injury and death at this age. All areas are discussed, including distracted driving, drunk and drugged driving, drowsy driving, speeding, seat belt use, helmet use, bicycle and pedestrian safety and more.
- A VIP speaker who has sustained a brain or spinal cord injury describes how the choices made led to an injury and changed his/her life from that day forward. This is the key component of the program, as students are able to speak with someone who has actually sustained an injury, giving them a tangible and heartfelt perspective from someone they can relate to.
- Class discussion, giving students a rare opportunity to ask questions and dialogue with the VIP speaker and health educator.