The Caribou Brain Injury Society is celebrating its 10th anniversary and it’s an anniversary that coincides with Brain Injury Awareness Month, this June.
The society is a non-profit organization that supports, advocates and serves brain injury individuals and their families by helping them face the challenges of living with a brain injury.
“We provide advocacy, one-to-one support, group support, peer support, awareness and prevention, brain injury education, and life skills support,” says Shilo Labelle, executive director of the society.
Generally the society hosts a group meeting once a week — focusing on coping strategies, or simply talking about current events.
“Sometimes we’ll go bowling even,” Labelle adds.
Following the Whatever it Takes model, the society meets with a survivor to help determine what supports that survivor needs.
“Is it housing? Is it applying for persons with disability funding? Or to get them connected with the services in Williams Lake that can help them. Is it budgeting? Is it education around what brain injury is and looking at coping strategies? Maybe they need group support to help them realize that they are not all alone in this journey.”
What are ways a person can be helped to realize that things will get better?
“We’re helping with not only the physical challenges, but the cognitive challenges as well and the emotional challenges, whether that’s one-on-one, peer support or group support. Whatever it takes to get them back to their new normal.”
Throughout the year, the society also provides a nine-week education series — Understanding Brain Injury and Coping Strategies — that’s free for survivors.
In the past, the series has been offered to professionals as well.
Prevention is crucial and one of the things the society does every year is go into elementary schools in the month of June to talk to students about brain injuries and ways to prevent them from happening.
In November, the society conducts a shopping cart safety program because one of the leading causes of brain injuries in children under five years old is falling out of shopping carts.
“For four years we’ve gone into Zellers, Save-On Foods, Safeway and Canadian Tire and we set up a little table with information and we talk to families about shopping cart safety and what they can do to keep little ones safe.”
In the United States, every year 20,000 plus injuries occur from children falling out of shopping carts, Labelle adds. “Those are brain injuries. We don’t have those statistics for Canada.”
They are also giving pamphlets to pizza places in Williams Lake for distribution this month that contain some eye-opening statistics.
“One in 26 Canadians live with a brain injury, an estimated 1.3 million. Within in the next hour six Canadians will suffer a brain injury, one in five sports-related injuries are to the head, and brain injuries are the number one killer and disabler of people under 44 years of age.”
Labelle’s area of service covers Williams Lake to 100 Mile House, where she spends 18 hours a week with individuals that have brain injuries, aside from group support.
She’s been with the society for six years. Before that she was an Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder worker, another type of brain injury but organic, she explains.
“I was also a youth worker for five years, and my parents were foster parents for 18 years, so it’s been my lifestyle working with people with learning and physical disabilities and behavioural challenges, so that’s how I got involved.”
On June 20, the society will host an Open House at New World coffee shop on Oliver Street from 2 to 4 p.m. During the afternoon society staff will be there sharing information around acquired brain injuries.
Everyone is welcome.