Educating Oregon's youth
Founded in 1986 at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), ThinkFirst Oregon is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating our state's youth in the prevention of brain and spinal cord injuries. ThinkFirst Oregon's medical director is Edward A. Neuwelt, M.D., a neurosurgeon and professor at OHSU.
The OHSU ThinkFirst Oregon mission is to reduce the incidence of brain, spinal cord, and other traumatic injuries and fatalities by providing education to youth, parents, and community members throughout Oregon. Through innovative classroom presentations and community outreach, ThinkFirst's programs are designed to help young children and teens develop lifelong safety habits to minimize their risk of sustaining brain, spinal cord or other traumatic injuries. Most importantly, ThinkFirst teaches young people ways to avoid behaviors and situations that put them at risk. Our message is that you can enjoy a fun, exciting life and be safe if you "think first" and use your mind to protect your body.
Since its inception, ThinkFirst Oregon has reached more than 300,000 young people. Through a network of more than 250 local, statewide, and international chapters, 9.4 million children, teens and adults have participated in ThinkFirst programs worldwide.
The ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation was first implemented in 1986 by two neurosurgeons, Dr. E. Fletcher Eyster of Pensacola, Florida and Dr. Clark Watts of Columbia, Missouri. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons initiated the development of the national program due to their frustration at not being able to cure or "fix" brain and spinal cord injured patients. These groups share the belief that prevention is the only cure.
National and international recognition
The ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation received the 1988 Presidential Citation for Private Sector Initiatives and the 1989 Award for Excellence in Prevention Education from the American Medical Association. In 2000, Life Space Adaptation Projects of the University of Toronto identified ThinkFirst as an example of "Best practice" in the category of Comprehensive Community-Based Prevention Strategies. Two years later, the California Department of Education recognized ThinkFirst for Kids as a research-validated program and accepted it into its California Healthy Kids Resource Center, making the curriculum and its supplementary materials available for loan throughout the California educational system.