Case Study: ‘My spine had been snapped in two’

Learning from mistakes: Leana Stewart was a teenager when she was
injured in a speeding car in Norfolk. The car, which was carrying
three other passengers, hit a grass embankment and spun over
several times before landing in a water-filled ditch. Leana was
left paralysed from the waist down and now visits schools with
Smartrisk to urge other young people to think about the risks they

“When the X-ray results came back the room went silent. All the
nurses left. My mum came into the room and she had been crying. She
held my hand and told me that I would never walk again.

“I had been shaken around so badly that my spine had been snapped
in two. Part of the bone was almost sticking through my skin. It
must be one of the hardest things for a parent to have to tell
their child and I tell this to the children at the

“I got involved with Smartrisk to explain to pupils what the
consequences can be if you take stupid risks. All the injury
survivors know that the accident that caused their injury was
avoidable. If I hadn’t got in the car with the driver, and if he
hadn’t decided to show off and speed, I wouldn’t be in a
wheelchair. But it’s not only about getting the message across
about you being safe, but about making sure your actions don’t
endanger other people too.

“The pupils ask me all sorts of things like ‘do I have a boyfriend’
and ‘how do I go to the toilet’. I hope that by showing them how my
life has totally changed they will take more care.”

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