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Brain Injury display unmasks personal journeys


Anna Jurak, BIAWE’s Executive Director, poses with the local edition of the “Unmasking Brain Injury” display, which was showcased at the Essex County Civic and Education Centre last week.

by Sylene Argent

The Brain Injury Association of Windsor and Essex County’s (BIAWE) “Unmasking Brain Injury” project was displayed at the Essex County Civic and Education Centre last week, to allow individuals with brain injuries to artistically ‘unmask’ their personal journies.

  The project was officially unveiled in June at a special ceremony hosted at the Windsor Art Gallery, in recognition of Brain Injury Awareness month.

  Anna Jurak, BIAWE’s Executive Director, explained the Unmasking Brain Injury project was an international movement, of which, Ontario had become the first province in Canada to participate.

  For the BIAWE’s project, Jurak explained local individuals who have suffered a brain injury designed their own artistically decorated mask to be added to the compilation. The project was a means to allow these individuals, who have also been very involved with the Association, to express themselves, she said.

  The display also sends a message to viewers just how simply one could obtain a brain injury.

  Some of the stories shared through the display noted the involved individuals received a brain injury through a car accident, had been pushed down stairs, or had hit one’s head after tripping.

  Jurak was surprised to note how much colour was used to decorate the masks. She believed that was because the participants, “Are on a journey to better-ness.”

  She added that, “The stories are sad, but they all have hope.” Those who decorated a mask for the display may not have gotten to the end of their rehabilitation, yet, but have noticed an improvement.

   Jurak estimated 1.3 million Canadians are living with an acquired brain injury and more than 18,000 Ontarians will suffer a brain injury this year.

  Brain injury, Jurak said, includes any injury that happened during or after birth, including aneurysm or stroke. Concussion is included as a brain injury, she added, which could be very serious. So much so, in March, the Ontario legislature passed Rowan’s Law that enacts concussion safety.

  The BIAWE was able to participate in the campaign, thanks to a Rotary Club of Windsor 1918 grant, which included producing videos of the project.

So far, the display has visited a handful of Windsor-based recreation centres and the Essex County Civic and Education Centre. The project’s regional tour will wrap up for the summer at the Sherk Centre in Leamington this week. Other possible exhibit dates could be considered for the fall.  

  Visit www.biawe.com for more information.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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