Think First - Singing River Health System

ThinkFirst - Mississippi Gulf Coast, Singing River Health System chapter 

Use Your Mind to Protect Your Body

Welcome to ThinkFirst – Mississippi Gulf Coast, Singing River Health System’s chapter of ThinkFirst.

ThinkFirst is a National Injury Prevention Foundation whose mission is to prevent brain, spinal cord, and other traumatic injuries through education, research and advocacy. It was founded by America’s neurosurgeons in an effort to decrease the leading cause of childhood death and disability- unintentional injury. ThinkFirst uses upbeat programs to educate young people from kindergarten through 12th grade about personal vulnerability and risk taking.

Why ThinkFirst is Important to Young People on the Coast

Injury is the leading cause of death and disability among children and young adults. Not cancer. Not heart disease. Not AIDS. The number one killer of young people is traumatic injury caused by vehicle crashes, violence, falls, sports and other causes. The most serious injuries are those to the brain and spinal cord. Injuries to these areas can lead to permanent paralysis and disabling brain injuries.

The only “cure” is preventing injuries from happening in the first place. Most injuries can be prevented by learning to make safe choices. The mission of the ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation is to reduce injuries through education, research and policy.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast Chapter was started in April 2011. Dr. Lee Kesterson, Neurosurgeon for the Singing River Health System Neuroscience Center, is the sponsoring physician. Heather Sudduth, Neuroscience program coordinator, is the chapter director.

ThinkFirst offers evidence-based educational presentations and programs for schools and communities. There are three Educational Programs offered :

  1. ThinkFirst for Kids – is a comprehensive interactive safety curriculum for first-third grade. This program encourages safe behavior by teaching students about the brain and spinal cord. It also addresses safety topics associated with traumatic injury such as:
    • Anatomy of the brain and spinal cord
    • Playground, recreation and sports safety
    • Car and pedestrian safety
    • Water and diving safety
    • Gun safety and violence prevention
    • Bike safety and helmet use
  2. ThinkFirst for Youth – provides students in grades four through eight with lessons on decision-making skills, a confident self image, and the ability to resolve conflicts and withstand peer pressure.
  3. ThinkFirst for Teens – addresses the realities of life altering injuries and the importance of making safe choices. This program creates a forum for open dialogue by discussing how young people who have suffered brain or spinal cord injury were injured, how they could have prevented the injury and how they deal with life after paralysis or brain injury.

Please contact Heather Sudduth at 228-202-3460 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for questions regarding the ThinkFirst program at Singing River Health System.