With June marking Brain Injury Awareness Month, staff at the Central Alberta Brain Injury Society (CABIS) continues to expand services and make a profound difference in the lives of many.
For those who have suffered a brain injury, there can be an array of challenges in terms of finding and connecting with a supportive circle as well. During this month in particular and all year long, the staff, volunteers and clients of CABIS also hope the public can become better informed about the impacts and complexities of brain injury.
The Society has been helping individuals and families deal with the effects of traumatic or acquired brain injury since 1991 – free of charge.
Jean Stinson, president of CABIS, said a new service is the Caregiver Compass Course which runs for eight-week stretches.
“It covers every topic that caregivers need in order to look after themselves,” she said. Topics run the gamut from working to put your own needs at a higher priority for example. “Caregivers are always talking about, ‘I need to do this for him, or I need to do that for her’, and there’s no time for them. So this course is about the caregivers – how they can look after themselves and what the resources are out there for them in the community.”
It also provides information on all types of situations, whether you are perhaps looking after someone who will get better, or someone who is terminally ill.
“We advertise it throughout Central Alberta – if you are looking after anyone who is either disabled, or elderly, chronically ill. They can be an adult or a child. It could be an elderly parent,” she said. Sessions also allow those in attendance to share whatever is on their minds. Participants must sign confidentiality agreements to take part.
“You are going to talk about how you really feel,” she said, adding the feedback after each session has been excellent. “You have the right to vent and say how you feel.”
The Caregiver Compass Course runs three times a year.
Another growing program is Brain Walk – an interactive ‘walk through the brain’ via a 10-station interactive learning experience that’s aimed at students.
“Some stations focus on the various lobes of the brain as well. There are stations for prevention, brain injury outcomes and real life experiences and the learning includes hands-on games and visual activities.
There is no cost for CABIS to bring the presentation to local schools.
“To date, we have done nine schools and brought the program to 2,100 students from Kindergarten to Grade 9. And the feedback has been phenomenal.”
Stinston said there is also a need for additional funding for the program so it can continue to reach more young people.
“We are going to plan to go into all of Central Alberta with it.”
Meanwhile, CABIS also has peer support groups and a caregiver support group.
And with June being Brain Injury Awareness Month, several events are slated for the coming weeks. On June 17th-18th, there is a silent auction held at Parkland Mall to help raise funds for ongoing operations.
“We ask for donations across the community for that event, and all the proceeds go to our programs,” said Stinson.
There is also the Berry Architecture/Red Deer PCN Wellness Ride slated for Aug. 6th.
For clients of CABIS, the services are simply invaluable. Jeff Booth suffered a brain injury in an accident in the mid-1990s near Hanna. He was not even 20-years-old. He was involved in an vehicle accident on the way home after work, he said.
He doesn’t remember the accident itself, but does recall the lengthy treatment that followed in the months and years following. He’s been involved with CABIS for about 10 years.
Today, he’s thankful for the support that CABIS provides. “They understand you,” he said. “And you get to talk to others and meet new people.”
Club CABIS – a social drop-in support group spearheaded by survivors – started meeting in the early 1990s, too.
According to the web site, Club CABIS is a social drop-in session for people with an acquired brain injury which meet the first and third Thursday afternoon of each month between 1:30-3 p.m. at the office and the peer support group meets the second and fourth Thursday.
Central Alberta Brain Injury Society is also seeking volunteer board members who have an interest in joining our organization. For more information contact Lorraine Irwin, 403-341-3463, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.