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Spinal education has plenty of backbone

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An education program promoting spinal injury prevention was on track to reach the major milestone of 80,000 students by the end of the year.

Minister for Disabilities Services, Lindy Nelson-Carr said Disability Services Queensland had provided funding of $90,000 over three years for the Spinal Injuries Association program which informs young people about spinal cord injury and how to prevent it.

“The program targets young ones and raises their awareness about preventing spinal cord injuries before they enter the highest risk time of sustaining an injury, between 15 and 30,” Ms Nelson-Carr said.

“We know young adults are at higher risk of spinal cord injury than any other group, with the top three causes being road trauma, falls or crushes, and water-related accidents.”

She said it was important to get the prevention message out as far and as wide as possible.

By the end of September, the Association’s Spinal Education Awareness Team (SEAT) had visited some 324 schools and addressed some 55,000 children.

“This team’s wonderful volunteers, who have a spinal cord injury and use a wheelchair, go to schools to share their real life experiences which is a powerful way to deliver this education message across the State,” Ms Nelson-Carr said.

“I pay particular tribute this week to the program’s longest-serving presenters – Wayne Leo, 57 (River Hills), who has been with SEAT from the start and has presented to some 225,000 students, and presenter of 15 years Robert Spencer, 50 (Bridgeman Downs), who this year celebrated presenting to 75,000 students.”

Mr Leo sustained a spinal cord injury in a motorbike accident in 1984.

“I was hit by a car while travelling home from work. The car didn’t stop, so there wasn’t much I could do as far as prevention goes,” he said.

“But by joining the SEAT program back in 1987, I found I could do something to prevent the preventable – particularly among young people, and young males more specifically, who are at a higher risk.”

He said SEAT presentations were tailored for primary and secondary school students and were highly personal, which really hit home with younger audiences.

“With the majority of Queenslanders who sustain a spinal cord injury aged between 15 and 30, we’re out there sharing valuable injury prevention and safety messages directly with people who are in – or near – the high-risk age group,” Mr Leo said.

Ms Nelson Carr said the SEAT program was an investment in the safety of Queensland’s young people.

“The team is working hard to reach its target of speaking to 80,000 children by the end of the year – that’s an incredible milestone worth celebrating.”

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