The Kessler Foundation, headquartered in West Orange, NJ, recently announced the winners of its annual poster contest. The contest winners all yielded from the New Jersey-based chapter of ThinkFirst, a national injury prevention program. The program is designed to educate students, from kindergarten through high school, about the simple safety practices that can help avoid brain injury (BI) and spinal cord injury (SCI) and the consequences that accompany these injuries. 

A Kessler news release reports that students from the lower grade levels through junior high school were asked to create posters. High school students were asked to take a test in order to assess the lesions that they learned from the ThinkFirst program. An internal committee reportedly reviewed the entries and results. One winner from each school was chosen to receive a $100 prize. Kessler adds that the judging occurs prior to Memorial Day, the weekend with the reported highest rate of SCI in NJ, often as a result of not wearing seatbelts and diving into shallow water. Rodger DeRose, Kessler Foundation president and CEO, articulates that while the Foundation places an emphasis on rehabilitation research to improve patient care and help integrate individuals with disabilities back into their community, prevention is ultimately key, “we recognize that the most important aspect is prevention. What better way to start than by teaching youngsters how to protect their head and spine?”

The posters were hung in the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation to allow staff, patients, and caregivers to vote, the release reports. Two students received a grand prize of an additional $100. Grand prize winners included Ly’Anna Mohammed, fifth grade, Clifton Elementary School, and Vincent Serriano, first grade, Walnut Avenue Elementary School, Cranford, NJ (posters pictured upper-right).

Sandy DeLeon, MSN, director of the NJ ThinkFirst chapter, emphasizes the organization’s gratefulness to teachers, principals, and school nursing for having ThinkFirst in their schools. DeLeon also highlights a recent message that the program has sought to communicate about the importance of not having a cell phone in the car or texting while driving, “And some of these posters reflect these messages, which shows the lessons are effective. These youngsters—third graders, fourth graders, and kindergarteners—are now reminding adults, including their parents, to practice these safe behaviors,” DeLeon says.

The ThinkFirst program is designed to educate young individuals about the importance of wearing seatbelts and helmets, looking both ways when crossing, and the dangers of texting while driving, driving while intoxicated, and diving into water that is less than 8-feet deep.

For a full list of contest overall winners, click here.

Source: Kessler Foundation