July 20, 2001
After suffering a spinal cord injury in a diving accident, a college student encourages children to 'think first'
By Collin Johnson
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—Brad McFadden, 23, who suffered a spinal cord injury in a diving accident in 1993, will speak to 15 fourth and fifth graders on Friday, July 20, at 10:30 a.m. at the conference center at Methodist Rehabilitation Center. McFadden, who is a quadriplegic and a University of Arizona sophomore, will talk about diving safety and the many sports, including quad rugby and tennis, he plays.
A former patient at Methodist Rehabilitation Center, McFadden will speak as part of Think First, an MRC-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.
Ginny Boydson, the hospital’s therapeutic recreation director, will show the children how spinal cord-injured people use specially designed wheelchairs to participate in races, tennis, rugby and other sporting events.
Following the program, participants will be given a tour of the hospital.
“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, MRC’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