2019 COMMUNITY BRAIN INJURY ASSOCIATION OF THE YEAR NOMINEE
Brain Injury Association of Windsor & Essex County (BIAWE)
COMMUNITY BRAIN INJURY ASSOCIATION OF THE YEAR
The Brain Injury Association of Windsor and Essex County was incorporated in February 2001 but it started many years before that. Its mission is to enhance the lives of those affected by an acquired brain injury (ABI) through support, education and awareness.
BIAWE holds a “You Are Not Alone” support group for those with an ABI and their family and friends. We host a Social each month for those with ABI and four times a year we offer off-site programs such as a holiday dinner at a restaurant, a summer picnic, ceramic painting and others, based on the interests of the group. At the same time as the Social, the Family and Friends Support Group meets to discuss issues relevant to them. The Young Adult Group for those ages 18 to 29 meets at a café to talk in an informal venue.
Our Peer Support Program is robust with regular requests for partnerships and has been growing steadily. Our unique GOALS program, which is funded by the United Way until March 2020 is about bringing people together in an environment that fosters motivation, relationship building and trust. It is a free 6-week peer support program, guided by a facilitator to learn goal setting techniques. It is a popular program.
BIAWE participated in the “Unmasking Brain Injury” program which saw its exhibit visit recreation centres across the city and county, our local hospital, our major health care centre, all our fundraising events and outreach programs. It has been called a powerful exhibit and continues to move around for all to see.
Recently members of BIAWE/OBIA were given water bottles with the BIAWE logo to use at all our programs as we phase out plastic water bottles at our events – part of our green initiative.
Outreach is an important part of what we do, as we encourage those affected by a brain injury to participate in our programs. Health care providers received a package with BIAWE info and a script they could use to refer their patients to our programs. This has been successful as we have seen our numbers rise in all our programs and the number of phone calls to BIAWE for information and navigation. We held a news conference in June to educate about the possible losses to senses as a result of a brain injury. We received extensive coverage on television, radio, newspapers and a two page article in a local magazine. We use Facebook, Linked In and Twitter to keep people informed of what we are doing and the number of followers increases regularly. We recently started an online Directory of Services for service providers who specialize in services to those affected by ABI. We hosted a well-attended annual ABI Conference for Healthcare Workers and this year’s theme was “Cannabis, Addiction and Mental Health.”
Our “Helmets for Kids” program is very popular and we are fortunate to have several sponsors provide helmets and funds to purchase helmets. We provide a helmet and a proper fitting to children in low income areas who otherwise could not afford to get one. Education on brain injury prevention is foremost.
We are launching several exciting new projects in partnership with Pro Bono Canada law students at the University of Windsor, with Lowe’s Canada to provide needed repairs and appliances to those with ABI who require it, and with the University of Windsor nursing students on an education program for middle to high school students on injury prevention.
We continue to look for gaps in the system of services for those affected by an acquired brain injury and find ways to address these, and to fund our programs and services. For this we rely on the goodwill of the people of our community and our fundraising efforts, such as our Sports and Sparkles event, the Duelling Pianos event and our annual Golf Tournament. We do all this with only one full time staff person, our support team, board members and volunteers.