ThinkFirst of Greater Kansas City celebrates 30 years of injury prevention

KANSAS CITY, Mo., (Sept. 14, 2017) –  The Research Foundation’s injury prevention program for youth, ThinkFirst of Greater Kansas City, celebrated its 30th anniversary with friends of the program Wednesday, September 13.

Dr. Robert Morantz, a longtime Kansas City neurosurgeon, helped to establish a spinal cord injury prevention program in 1987. He knew of similar programs around the country and wanted Kansas City to have one it could call its own.

Originally known as HEADS UP, Dr. Morantz’s program joined the national ThinkFirst Injury Prevention Foundation in 1989. When Health Midwest and its hospitals, including Research Medical Center, were sold to HCA in 2003, The Research Foundation was asked to oversee the program.

The ThinkFirst of Greater Kansas City chapter is part of a national, award-winning program that offers free, school-based assemblies. Health educators and brain or spinal cord injury survivors present the importance of making safe choices by preventing injuries to the brain or spinal cord through education about distracted driving, seatbelt usage, sports and recreation safety, water safety, pedestrian and bicycle safety and avoiding violence.

Former and current ThinkFirst health educators and VIP speakers attended the celebration along with Missouri State Highway Patrol partners, program funders and donors, The Research Foundation board members and volunteers. Dr. Jonathan Chilton ThinkFirst physician sponsor and Kansas City neurosurgeon spoke to attendees about the importance of ThinkFirst’s safety message.

“As a neurosurgeon, I see the devastating effects of brain and spinal cord injuries every day.  Many of these injuries are completely preventable and that is our goal with ThinkFirst, to educate youth and give them information to help them make wise decisions,” Chilton said.

During the 2003-2004 school year, ThinkFirst hosted 71 assemblies in schools throughout the area. ThinkFirst presented 148 assemblies in the 2016-2017 school year, a 108 percent increase over a 14-year period. The number of students reached during those years increased by 178 percent. The ThinkFirst message was shared with 13,331 students in Greater Kansas City during the 2003-2004 school year. In the 2016-2017 school year, 37,062 students were reached.

ThinkFirst of Greater Kansas City is now scheduling free school assemblies for the 2017-2018 school year. Email thinkfirst@theresearchfoundationkc.org for more information.