For several years I was a speaker with the Brain Injury Association's Education Advisory Service.  We had the remarkable opportunity of being able to speak with hundreds of people about the long term impacts that can result from a traumatic brain injury. 

Two very effective programmes that we worked with were the Rotary Youth Driver Awareness (RYDA) programme for secondary students and the Right Track programme for high risk youth.

Between these two organisations, youth get the opportunity to work alongside the NZ Police, the NZ Fire Service, the Department of Justice and dedicated community groups that are proactive about preventing accidents and injury, rather than being the 'ambulance a the bottom of the cliff'.

We regularly spoke with Health Professionals, Emergency Department staff, Nursing staff and Medical  students from the University of Auckland, Massey University and Auckland University of Technology. As somebody with a brain injury, I found it remarkable that, while the basic mechanisms of injury were taught, the human experience of what a TBI means was completely new. 

“Definitely take into consideration the hardships of people who have had brain injury”
“Be more aware of individual experiences – more understanding”
“I will talk to friends and family (especially after hearing how high the prevalence is). I will also be more careful & take concussion (in particular) more seriously”
"Thought you might like to know I have had wonderful, positive feedback about your 2 presentations on Tuesday. Everyone was impressed at how the kids really responded to you…. And hopefully that will make a difference to someone’s life."

The thoughts we had on leaving each session were echoed perfectly by a member of the NZ Police Serious Crash Unit who reflected that if these sessions meant that one more life was saved, then it was all worth it. 

The NZ Police also run a host of Road Safety Education programmes within schools that begin at age 5 and continue all the way through high school. These courses are designed to encourage responsible use of the roads, whether as a pedestrian, cyclist or motorist, and are very well received.

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