'Head Strong' Supporting BIAC-ACLC‘Head Strong’ Supporting BIAC-ACLCOverview:
Brain injury occurs suddenly, without warning. In an instant life is changed, forever. Canadian Hockey League defenseman Ben Fanelli knows this first hand. In October of 2009 Ben suffered a head injury that changed his life. Because of this Ben has realized the need for Brain Injury Awareness and funding. And that is why he teamed up with the Kitchener Rangers to start Head Strong; Fanelli 4 Brain Injury Awareness: a program designed to raise awareness about brain injuries and provide funds to various Brain Injury associations and programs.

Brain Injury awareness and program funding is also close to home for Zehr Insurance Brokers Limited President John Zehr. His daughter Kelly, has an acquired brain injury as a result of an illness she suffered when she was younger. The Zehr Insurance family understands how disadvantaged brain injury victims can be when it comes to competing with life’s opportunities. Kelly’s mom, Dr. Laurie Sellers, a physician who works in the emergency room, sees the challenges brain injury victims live with on every shift. A brain injury is heart breaking. It can set a family back both emotionally and financially. This brain injury cause needs increased awareness and support. Kelly is pleased to help with this campaign to create possibilities for brain injury victims to develop meaningful careers and places in society through the scholarship awards this program will fund.

Since its launch in March 2011, Head Strong has experienced a tremendous amount of support. We hope this will continue as Head Strong looks to the Aviva Community Fund to assist the Brain Injury Association of Canada in their mission to provide educational bursaries to brain injury survivors.

It is the mandate of the Brain Injury Association of Canada to improve the quality of life for all Canadians affected by acquired Brain Injury and promote its prevention. In 2008 the BIAC (Brain Injury Association of Canada) created a bursary fund. The fund is managed and decided upon by a committee made up of three BIAC board members with specific background in awarding educational funding. The BIAC Bursary Program was intended to assist students living with an acquired brain injury to pursue educational opportunities in English or French post secondary institutions or apprenticeship/trades programs. Last year this program was unable to assist any of the applicants from across Canada as there was no funding available.

Through the Aviva Community Fund we hope to bring the BIAC Bursary Program back and make it better than ever.

The goal of $35,000 for the BIAC Bursary Program will provide 10 bursaries of $3,500 (English and/or French). This is an increase from the current two $2,000 bursaries (English and French) that are offered and provide the ability to be able to help a higher percentage of applicants who need help with their educational costs.

I am so happy to be attending university!

However, I do face some challenges that although ‘hidden’, are very much a part of who I am today. I continue to have physical and cognitive symptoms from a series of concussions I sustained several years ago. Although individuals who suffer brain injuries can show various symptoms, I will describe some of the challenges I face.

Deficits in my working memory and difficulties in visual processing make taking notes while listening to a lecture extremely difficult. Thus, I tape each lecture and re-listen to it (while stopping and starting the tape) to make notes. You can imagine the number of hours this takes. Because of the time needed to make notes and the fact I can get fatigued quickly, I am unable to work very many hours outside of school to earn income to put towards the tuition and book costs.

I need to keep a strict early bedtime in order to minimize the migraines. I live at home since residence life would certainly not fit into the quiet, structured day I need. To allow me to leave university when I feel very tired or have a headache, I need to drive a car everyday to and from university and pay for parking. Also, if I am having a day when I am unable to take a bus around campus because of motion sickness, I need to pay for a cab to get from class to class if the buildings are far away. Thus, on top of the high costs faced by all students, I am less able to earn money to help with the costs and I have some costs that other students do not have. – 2011 Brain Injury Survivor and Bursary Applicant.

Be a Head Strong champion! VOTE and PROMOTE TODAY!