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For two decades, Kessler Foundation has sponsored the New Jersey chapter of ThinkFirst—a national injury prevention program presented to students grades K-12. Over the years, through community education in schools and summer camps, more than 300,000 NJ students have learned simple safety practices to avoid brain injury and spinal cord injury (SCI) and the consequences of such injuries. Through ThinkFirst, Kessler Foundation:

The program is presented in a classroom or assembly format by the coordinator for Spinal Cord Injury Services at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation and a Kessler Foundation ThinkFirst Voice for Injury Prevention (VIP) speaker—a spinal cord injury survivor. Students learn what happens to the body during brain and spinal cord injuries, consequences of these injuries, and how to avoid injury. VIPs tell their stories in an age-appropriate manner and explain how they were injured; the physical, emotional, and financial challenges of an injury; and how they wish they could take the time back to think first about their actions before they participated in a behavior that caused the injury.

To reinforce these life-saving lessons, students compete in the Kessler Foundation ThinkFirst Poster Contest for cash prizes. Kindergarten through junior high school students create posters where they draw their best representation of a prominent lesson. High school students complete quizzes based on the subject matter to assess how they understood the ThinkFirst material. Click to view the results and prizes of the 2012 ThinkFirst contest.

For more information about Kessler Foundation’s ThinkFirst program or to schedule a presentation in your school, please email us at