NEW YORK – The Sarah Jane Brain Foundation announced the launch of a new initiative on the first day of Brain Injury Awareness Month – the creation of Sarah Jane Brain Clubs in high schools, colleges and graduate schools across the country. The first Sarah Jane Brain Club (SJB Club) was started at one of the top high schools in the country, Jericho High School on Long Island, N.Y. and the first university SJB Club was launched at Harvard University.
“The SJB Clubs will engage students in advancing knowledge of the brain, which is last frontier of medicine and science, as well as offering support for the millions of families around the country dealing with brain injury, the number one cause of death and disability for American children and young adults up to 25 years of age,” stated Patrick Donohue, Founder of the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation.
“Not only is it personally gratifying to help other families who have experienced some of the same difficulties as my family, but it is rewarding to be doing so with many friends and classmates,” said Frankki Romano, founder of the SJB Club and junior at Jericho High School in Jericho, N.Y. Frankki’s older brother John sustained a brain injury when he was just 9 years old (His story is here).
“The enthusiasm these students have for being actively involved in the Sarah Jane Brain Club is remarkable and very encouraging,” said Judy Ornstein, faculty advisor for the SJB Club and psychology teacher at Jericho High School. “Having been a teacher and advisor for many years the Sarah Jane Brain Club’s mission fills a void that has been overlooked for a long time.”
There are eight Committees within each SJB Club:
- Prevention: students focus on issues related to the prevention of brain injuries
- Acute Care: students assist with the phase from diagnosis of a brain injury through discharge from a hospital or rehabilitation facility
- Reintegration: students help with the issues that arise when those with brain injuries re-enter schools and communities following their injury
- Adult Transition: students work with those with brain injuries from 16-25 years of age, including veterans returning with blast injuries and their families
- Rural / Telehealth: students assist families in rural areas, as well as collaborate on furthering the telecommunications field as it pertains to brain injury
- Mild TBI: students work with “mild” traumatic brain injury issues, including athletes, coaches, trainers and sports concussions
- The Virtual Center: students assist with the development of the online presence of all other categories
- Legal: students help advocate for families affected by brain injury as well as focus on legal issues for those families
“As a survivor of a brain injury due to a negligent driver, my journey made me all-too familiar with the difficulties of individuals and families working through the arbitrary system of care,” said Elisa Jacobs who is co-founder of the SJB Club at Harvard University. Elisa is completing her ALB in psychology at Harvard. After her brain injury, she returned to school in Washington to finish a degree she started at age 17 and was nominated by one of her science professors and won a national award for academic excellence and entered her current program at Harvard. “I want to leave the world a better place than I found it and if my research and actions can help improve the quality of life for children after a brain injury, it will make my journey even more wonderful than it has already been.
“Working with medical professionals, educators and families convinced me of the need for a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach in this field which is consistent with the mission of the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation,” said Nancy Meserve who is co-founder of the SJB Club at Harvard University. Nancy is a earning her Master’s Degree in the Mind, Brain and Education program in the Harvard Graduate School of Education, which is making the connections between neuroscience and cognitive research, educational policy and school practice focusing on the moral imperative of speaking to the needs of children, parents and schools.
“The Sarah Jane Brain Clubs are a great method for integrating students who have an interest in advancing our understanding and knowledge about the brain while allowing them to pursue their career focus,” said Dr. Stephanie Peabody, who is the Director of the International Mind Brain Health and Education Initiative at Harvard University Graduate School of Education and an International Advisory Board Member of the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation. “This is one of the most exciting and substantive student initiatives we will ever witness!”
Sarah Jane Brain Clubs have also formed at various other schools across the country, including one started by a relative of the club’s namesake.
“As Sarah Jane’s cousin, it is incredible to be able to help this important cause, and get my friends and classmates to help advance the mission of The Sarah Jane Brain Foundation,” said Shannon Ericson, a junior at Phillipsburg High School in Phillipsburg, New Jersey who is also forming a Sarah Jane Brain Club in her school.
For more information on the Sarah Jane Brain Clubs or to review the Starter Kit, contact the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation by calling (212) 576-1180, email Jennipher@TheBrainProject.org or visit www.SJBClub.com.