Information cards have been distributed to every school in Wiltshire to help parents recognise symptoms of brain tumours and save young lives.
The HeadSmart campaign, promoted and funded by The Brain Tumour Charity, aims to reduce the time it takes to diagnose children and young people with brain tumours in the UK by educating healthcare professionals and the public about the symptoms.
The campaign has released posters, leaflets and symptom cards to raise awareness and results have been positive. Diagnosis times dropped from 2.1 to 1.7 months in the 12 months following the launch in June 2011.
Toni Sidwell, HeadSmart campaign co-ordinator at The Brain Tumour Charity, said: “We were thrilled to get permission from Wiltshire Council to send them HeadSmart symptom cards for every schoolchild in the county.
“We have been working hard to get symptom cards into the hands of every single parent in the country and we hope that other councils will follow Wiltshire’s fantastic example and help raise awareness of brain tumours in children and young people.”
HeadSmart supporter Danica Marshall, of Monkton Farleigh, got the ball rolling by contacting Chippenham MP Duncan Hames to help distribute the cards.
Mrs Marshall felt helpless when her friend’s son was diagnosed with a brain tumour aged 11. He died five years later. Through research, she found out about the symptom checker cards on HeadSmart’s website.
“It really resonated with me because I have an 11-year-old daughter, so I started to distribute the cards in her school. Children were sent home with a card and letter of explanation in their bags.
“I wanted to take the campaign countywide and contacted Duncan Hames. He was very supportive and quickly put me in touch with the right people.
“Wiltshire Council said it was committed and wanted to be involved, so I then handed the campaign back to Headsmart.
“I am absolutely thrilled that it has gone countywide.”
Around 500 children and young people are diagnosed each year with a primary brain tumour and it is the biggest cancer killer of children and young people.
Symptoms include persisting or recurring vomiting and headaches, deteriorating vision, poor balance and co-ordination and behavioural changes, especially tiredness.