Sixth form students learn about spinal injuries from lawyer

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Sixth form students learn about spinal injuries from lawyer

12th July 2011

A lawyer who was spinally injured as a teenager has been speaking to Altrincham Sixth Form pupils about his own accident, living with his disability and the inherent dangers in taking risks.

Jonathan Fogerty, a serious injury specialist with Fentons Solicitors LLP in Manchester, gave a talk to over 150 lower-sixth form students at Altrincham Grammar School for Boys in Bowdon as part of their PSHE class (Personal, Social & Health Education).

“Talking to students about spinal cord injury has always been high on my priority list,” said Jonathan, who was recently elected to the Spinal Injuries Association Board of Trustees. “A few years ago I helped present for an injury prevention organisation, and saw first-hand the impact that talking to schoolchildren can have.

“PSHE covers things like personal responsibility, financial and health awareness and interestingly for me, disability awareness and injury prevention. I have done around twenty school presentations now, to over five hundred children,” said Jonathan. “I talk generally about spinal cord injury and how it happens, and then I tell my own story of how I was injured. The average age of the pupils has been around 14 and having been injured at that age myself, they can feel an immediate empathy with me.”

Jonathan, who lives in Manchester, said there is often visible shock amongst the pupils when they hear how easily he became a wheelchair user. “I go on to talk about living with a disability and cover everyday things I can and cannot do,” he said. “I try to make it interactive where I can. In my experience, the younger the pupils, the more questions there will be and as anyone who works with children will know, nothing is off limits!”

Jonathan has been delighted with the response from the schools he has visited so far, and has been invited back to speak to new groups of students.

“Many of the teachers have commented on how it makes a huge impact on the pupils to meet someone who is living with a disability,” he said. “I hope to continue the school talks in the future, because if together we can raise awareness and prevent spinal cord injury then that can only be a good thing.”

Speaking after his latest visit, Laura Barrett, Deputy Head of Sixth Form at Altrincham Grammar School for Boys, said she was delighted Jonathan had come to the school to talk to the pupils. “Jonathan talks openly about his spinal injury, its impact on his life and he is in a unique position to teach the pupils about his experiences of living with a disability.” she said. “The pupils enjoyed and learned a lot from Jonathan's talks."

If you would like to speak to Jonathan about attending a school or community group to speak about spinal cord injury, please contact him on 0844 893 6768 or e-mail