St John School Programme promotes safety

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Every week more than 135 children are hospitalised in New Zealand for a range of unintentional injuries – of which more than half are due to falls.

During the month of May, more than 12,000 primary school students throughout the country have been learning how to prevent these types of injuries, through the ASB St John in Schools Programme.

Leading injury causes

The ‘Make it Safe May’ injury prevention modules, developed by St John in partnership with ACC, focus on the four leading causes of child injury requiring hospitalisation: burns, poison, falls/slips and drowning.

On average, St John treats and transports more than 70 children (aged 0-18) to a medical facility or hospital each week, due to falls or slips.

Fractures make up more than a quarter of these incidents. Other weekly child hospital admissions include non-traffic transport like falling off skateboards (12), sharp objects (7), poisons (5) and hot objects (4). In addition, one child is hospitalised every two weeks due to a water incident.

“St John is called to far too many preventable incidents involving children. We have been working with ACC to deliver bespoke modules with the hope of reducing the number of child hospital admissions due to unintentional injury,” St John Director of Community Health Services Sarah Manley said.

Last year alone, St John treated and transported more than 3,300 children to medical clinics or to hospital, due to falls and slips.

“We have been coaching Kiwi kids how to avoid these common incidents by teaching them how to identify potential risks at home and at school, how to make safe decisions, the importance of knowing what we put in our mouths and keeping dangerous items out of reach,” Ms Manley said.

Interactive online facility

In conjunction with Make it Safe May, St John and ACC developed an interactive online activity to teach children about understanding how to make their home safe. This is now available for free at:

ACC’s Head of Injury Prevention, Isaac Carlson said that educating children on injury prevention is one of several initiatives critical to changing behaviour around being safe and taking measured risk.

“As children gain the skills to identify hazards in real life situations they learn to asses and respond to risks. The more they do that the more they learn to manage risk well. What they gain is a life-long skill – not only for their benefit, but for the benefit of their families and communities as well,” he said.

St John recently presented Wiri Central School in South Auckland with an AED, following a lucky draw for schools which participated in the injury prevention modules.

Maori high on admissions

According to ‘Safekids Aotearoa,’ Māori are over-represented in paediatric hospital admissions, with 29% percent of all child unintentional injury admissions being Māori children. About 40 Tamariki Māori are hospitalised each week from unintentional injury.

To help reduce these statistics, St John is now looking into how to translate the injury prevention modules into Te Reo Māori.

Primary schools interested in the ASB St John in Schools programme can find out more and contact St John online at

About ASB St John in Schools programme

The ASB St John in Schools programme provides pre-school and school-aged children with the skills and confidence to take action in response to an emergency situation.

St John Community Educators teach young people first aid basics and knowledge to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing, along with those around them.

St John tutors teach different skills to different age groups offering four modules: Responding in an Emergency, Injury Prevention, Disaster Preparedness and Camping.

St John Community Educators have taught in Māori and Samoan immersion classes.

Short educational videos for assisting in learning have been developed.

With support from ACC, the common goal is to deliver to a total of one million New Zealand students (pre-school through to intermediate) by 2023.


Photo Caption:

  1. St John at Wiri Central School in South Auckland

St John’s Bandage Exercise Programme

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