Recipient of the 2021 COMMUNITY BRAIN INJURY ASSOCIATION OF THE YEAR
Brain Injury Association of Waterloo Wellington
COMMUNITY BRAIN INJURY ASSOCIATION OF THE YEAR
The Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington (BIAWW) is a charitable organization devoted to advocacy, education, connections, and empowerment for individuals with acquired brain injury and their families in the Waterloo-Wellington region. It is our mission is to give support, hope and answers to survivors of ABI as well as their caregivers.
We are thrilled to be nominated for OBIA and PIA Law’s 2021 Award of Excellence for the Brain Injury Association of the Year! Thank you to OBIA and PIA Law for providing these awards.
Like many organizations, we were challenged in the wake of the global pandemic to support our members. Many survivors increasingly reported poorer mental health and increased feelings of isolation. With all in-person programming cancelled, the already existing vulnerabilities of the ABI survivors were exaggerated, thereby exponentially increasing the challenge to meet their needs.
The BIAWW virtual platform that was developed includes weekly chats, speakers, art activities, health and wellness sessions, increased email communications, enriched Facebook and social media content, YouTube channel, an array of virtual drop-in chats, presentations of survivor stories, healthy living activities (mindfulness, yoga, exercise), and activities just for fun to promote engagement.
In addition to our ongoing virtual and phone support for supporting over 500 people in our existing programs and our LidzOnKidz program, we have recently introduced four new programs: Brain Connect (providing technology devices and training), Brain Access (tax filing support), Brain Makers (social enterprise arts) and an Intimate Partner Violence program.
In 2021, we dramatically expanded our LidzOnKidz program, distributing over 1,250 bicycle helmets to children in need through a contact-less give away process in six cities throughout the Waterloo Wellington region in June.
Our Brain Connect effort supported over 50 people in the first year of the program. Providing individually selected technology devices, dedicated training and weekly “tech-talk” sessions, survivors are able to stay connected with their health care providers, their friends and family, reducing isolation and strain of the stay-at-home orders.
The Brain Access program helped many survivors understand, access and file their taxes this year. We plan to expand this program next year, reaching even more survivors to reduce the stress surrounding tax filings.
BIAWWs greeting card making program is reaching more survivors every month! Participants are provided resource “kits” that are delivered/picked up through contact-less means. BIAWW proudly made over 6,000 greeting cards in 2020 which were sold to members and the general public in efforts to raise funds for the association as well as enrich the survivor experience. Survivors and volunteers from BIAWW also contributed to the creation and distribution of over 700 cloth masks to individuals in need throughout the community since the pandemic started.
The BBrain Makers program isn’t letting the lack of in-person opportunities to sell products stop us! We now have a new online store selling our greeting cards, cloth masks, exclusive BIAWW “Brain and Body” aroma products, glass ornaments, jewelry, flower pots and t-shirts, all designed and made by survivors. This social enterprise is providing income to survivors, artistic activities to others and plans to continue to expand the products available and survivors participating.
Our new Intimate Partner Violence program is reaching front-line workers and survivors with information, tools and support in the road to recovery after a brain injury caused by IPV.
We are looking forward to resuming in-person programming and hope to reconnect with those we’ve only met through the computer screen!