By Julie Martinez
Special to The SUN
Amy Haggart, community outreach coordinator and representative of Mercy Regional Medical Center’s Gray Matters brain injury prevention program, spent most of the day on Friday educating Pagosa Springs Middle School fifth-graders on the importance of wearing a helmet to avoid potential brain injuries while participating in outdoor activities such as skiing, snowboarding, biking and skating.
As part of the event, Haggart gave free ski and snowboarding helmets to kids who do not have access to one because of financial or other reasons. In total, Mercy Regional Medical Center donated 46 helmets.
During Haggart’s presentation, the students learned that they could reduce the chances of having a traumatic brain injury by 90 percent if they did three things: 1) always wear seatbelts while riding in a car; 2) wear helmets when engaged in active outdoor sports; and 3) never get in a car when the driver has been drinking.
They saw lifelike samples of skulls with brains inside and so were able to see how delicate the brain really is and how easy it would be for it to be injured.
The activity that seemed to be the most fun for most of the students allowed them to experience first-hand what it was like to have some brain injury symptoms. They wore some special goggles and tried to do activities with them on, such as running to the classroom white board, touching it and then running back to a chair and sitting down.