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Bringing in reinforcements

Kids don’t always listen to their parents, so ThinkFirst of Greater Kansas City travels throughout a six-county area to reiterate a familiar message.

“ThinkFirst is reinforcing what we are trying to teach at home. It’s important that it comes from another source,” Ana Horbelt said.

Ana is a longtime friend of ThinkFirst speaker Sarah Smith. She has two daughters at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic School in Kansas. Olivia is a third grader and Katherine is a first grader. Both girls intently listened to Sarah talk about making safe decisions at a ThinkFirst assembly in February. It’s a lecture they’ve heard from their mom before, but this time it was from someone who lives with the physical consequences.

ThinkFirst is The Research Foundation’s injury prevention program that teaches youth about protecting the brain and spinal cord. At Olivia and Katherine’s school, Sarah and another ThinkFirst speaker, Marlana, explained their spinal cord injuries and how to prevent them. Pedestrian, seat belt, bike, water and gun safety were all covered coupled with encouragement to always “ThinkFirst.”

“I learned to look left, right and then left when crossing the street and to always wear my helmet,” Olivia said.

And when asked what the most important lesson of the day was, Katherine said to “be safe.”

After their presentation, the students at St Michael’s asked questions about what Sarah and Marlana’s lives are like in wheelchairs. How do they drive? How do they shower? How do you do a wheelie?

As a friend of Sarah’s, Ana was excited to attend the ThinkFirst assembly so she could see her friend in action all while watching her children and their classmates learn an important lesson from those who teach it best. 

“ThinkFirst is extremely valuable. Kids think they are invincible and this program reinforces the safety basics.”