I put a voice and action to my words today March 22nd 2017. This is brain injury awareness day and I gave a presentation to students in the Health Education class at Ravenswood Middle School. This is my first attempt to bring awareness to a non TBI affected group and the reception was actually much better than I expected. My friend Jeff Weiss is a Middle School Health Education teacher and a Health Education class seemed like a perfect setting for a TBI awareness/prevention presentation but the term “Middle School” had me a little nervous, well, maybe a lot nervous.
I first came in contact with Jeff when my wife, Bonnie and I were taking our afternoon walk around town and noticed a lawn landscaped the way we envisioned ours looking. We noticed a man working on the lawn and since we had very little confidence in our own landscaping ability, I jokingly asked him if he contracted out his yard work. To my extreme surprise, he said he sure did. We stopped and talked a while with him and scheduled an appointment. We also found out he is the Health Education teacher at the Middle School in town.
Jeff did an excellent job on our yard and we stayed in contact afterward. He was given a porch swing by one of his other landscaping customers and I built a frame so he could use the swing in the yard. Last fall, he and another friend of his started working on a mountain bike trail around a popular fishing lake north of town and asked if I wanted to help. We finished that trail and started another one near a school east of town.
When March came around this year, I knew it was Brain Injury Awareness Month so I asked Jeff if he could check on the possibility of giving a presentation to his class on Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness and prevention. He thought it was a great idea and ran it by the school administration and they agreed.
I searched for presentation material and found very little that targeted Middle School age children. I thought that was sad because that is the age when kids are starting to venture out and try new and sometimes grownup things. In our area, deer hunting and ATV riding are especially popular with this group. I eventually was referred to a PowerPoint High School presentation offered by the Brain Injury Alliance of Connecticut (BIAC). I modified this presentation to fit the age group and added some local area pictures.
On the day of the presentation, I didn’t know what to expect so I was nervous but the thought that kept me pushing forward was that if just one of those 150 students takes the suggestions and puts them into practice, then it will be worth all the time spent. To my surprise and delight, the presentation was met with overwhelming approval and the class participation was very positive and there was more of it than I expected and this applied to each of the 8 sessions of the day. The response actually dispelled some of my stereotypes of this age group of children. They actually paid attention to an adult and wanted to learn. Jeff and I asked them a few question about the material covered and were pleased that they got almost all of the questions correct. Contrary to popular belief, there is hope for future generations.