Topics:  booyal, education, health, school, spinal injury, students

Spinal lesson for Booyal students

Booyal Central State School captain Joshua McDonnell and spinal injuries presenter Wayne Horkings.
Booyal Central State School captain Joshua McDonnell and spinal injuries presenter Wayne Horkings. Mike Knott

STUDENTS at Booyal Central State School learnt a valuable lesson about just how precious their spinal cords were, during a visit from a Spinal Education Awareness Team.

Presenters Wayne Horkings and Ben Riley, who have spinal cord injuries and rely on wheelchairs, shared their stories and injury prevention messages with 21 children from Prep to Year 7 last Friday.

"There is no cure for spinal cord injury," Mr Horkings told the students.

"You can't undo the permanent, lifelong damage to your spinal cord."

Mr Horkings said he stressed to students the dangers of those split-second actions, like swinging on their chairs or diving into the water without checking how deep it is, could cause them to be paralysed for the rest of their lives.

"Simple precautions like always wearing a seatbelt, walking into any body of water to check its depth, and always wearing a helmet while riding a bike may save these young people from a lifetime of using a wheelchair," he said.

School principal Dawn Dolinski has seen the program presented in other schools she has worked in, and said she thought it would be a great opportunity to bring the presenters to Booyal.

"As our students are so active in so many ways, the potential for accidents is very real," she said.

"I thought the students could benefit from the first-hand experiences of the presenters."

Mrs Dolinski said the safety message had been a positive experience for the students.

"We are very appreciative to the Spinal Education Awareness Team organisation and the two presenters," she said.

The awareness program has had an impressive history, with more than 1.5 million Queensland school children having seen the presentation since it started 25 years ago.

Spinal Injuries Association chief executive Bruce Milligan said the presenters had a visible impact on the students.

"For a lot of teenagers, it's the first time they've interacted with someone who has a disability and it's an extremely valuable learning experience not only in terms of inspiring them to stay safe, but it raises their awareness of people who have a disability," he said.

Mr Milligan said it also promoted inclusive communities.



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