Olivia Keith, 11, of Fishers, Ind., a sixth-grader at Sand Creek Intermediate School, was motivated by the experience of both her parents in dealing with brain injuries to educate other young people about brain health and injury prevention, and to raise money for the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA). Olivias father still grapples with the effects of a stroke, while her mother deals with the aftermath of two traumatic brain injuries. Having seen their struggles and her mothers efforts to warn others about brain injury, Olivia decided she needed to make young people aware of the dangers. Brain injury, especially concussion, is a very important topic for kids my age as we start getting involved in contact sports and may not know the best way to protect our brains, she said.
As early as third grade, Olivia began giving presentations at schools, Boys & Girls Clubs and local sporting events. She also offers brain health and safety tips on a website and Facebook page, developed a game to make learning her safety tips fun, and encourages peers to pledge that they will always wear a seatbelt in cars and helmets when riding bicycles. Last April, Olivia handed out 20 donated bike helmets to children at a school safety fair, and then won more than $2,250 in grants to distribute more helmets. In addition, Olivia organized her own bowling team to participate in an annual BIAA fundraiser, ultimately helping to raise more than $70,000 for brain injury education in Indiana. Seeing how brain injury has affected my family, I want to help other kids learn about protecting their brains so they can enjoy all that life has to offer, she said.