First Sunday Club: Spinal Injuries Association – July 2010
They’re a tough audience. Anyone who has ever fronted a room full of teenagers knows that they often bring with them a take-no-prisoners approach. Over the past eight years I’ve learnt that if you want teenagers to listen to you then you’d better be laugh-out-loud funny or alternatively have a powerful, personal message that shocks the hell out of them. And when it comes to the latter, I don’t think anyone is doing it better than SEAT – the Spinal Education Awareness Team presenters.
It’s the first Sunday in July and this month for our First Sunday Club I’m nominating the Spinal Injuries Association. More specifically I’m nominating their free SEAT program which sends presenters – all of whom have either quadriplegia or paraplegia – into schools to candidly talk to students about their injuries, how they got them and, most importantly of all, to share crucial safety messages. As Spinal Injuries Association CEO, Mark Henley tells me, “There is no cure for a spinal cord injury. The spinal cord is the width of a pinkie finger and has the consistency of a banana – once it’s damaged it cannot be repaired.”
Ninety Queenslanders a year sustain a spinal cord injury. That’s one Queenslander every four days who is waking up in hospital, trying to come to terms with the fact they have lost all function and feeling from the neck or chest down. And most likely that Queenslander will be a male aged 15-30 – young men with that inherent Superman mentality.
The messages the SEAT presenters hammer home are nothing new. It’s stuff parents mutter every weekend to their own kids. The dangers of jumping into shallow water without checking the depth first. Why you need to wear a seatbelt in a car or a helmet on a bike or skateboard. The stupidity in drink driving or texting and driving. And how the wrong tackle on a footy field can irrevocably change your life the way it did to a guy I know called Dave who became a quadriplegic as a teenager following a school footy game. He’s married now. Is a phenomenal artist. But Dave has a full time carer who helps bathe him. That’s the reality.
And see, you and I can say this stuff to our kids but the truth is it usually takes someone else to say it – to act as a living, breathing warning – for the message to hit home.
So this month I’m asking you to give $10 to the Spinal Injuries Association to help them fund their free school visits and maybe even purchase a full set of multimedia equipment for all sixteen volunteer presenters. (Each set of equipment would include a laptop, speakers, projector and accessible carry case that allows them to show up to any school prepared without having to reply on schools having working projectors.)
So donate your ten bucks at www.spinal.com.au. And if you’d like a free SEAT presentation at your school, call 3391 2044.
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Over the past 25 years Rebecca Sparrow has earned a living as a travel writer, a television publicist, a marketing executive, a magazine editor, a TV scriptwriter, a radio producer, a newspaper columnist and as an author.
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