A community corner for individuals with a brain injury became a little more inclusive Wednesday when the clubhouse welcomed members in wheelchairs up a new ramp.
The West Kootenay Brain Injury Association celebrated the completion of its ramp project with a ribbon cutting ceremony and a hot lunch for club members and support staffs, who’ve helped make the project possible.
“It feels good,” said Kyle Hansen, who was the first to test the ramp as he wheeled into the house after cutting the ribbon with help from Trail Mayor Dieter Bogs.
Columbia Basin Trust funded the $15,000 project ($12,000 spent on building the ramp), which is hoped to attract more of the 100 clients the association supports. Some individuals who frequent the house pitched in and helped build the ramp, too.
“It’s hard for some people to look at someone with a brain injury and understand because a lot of the time they look exactly the same,” said Kelly Johnson, executive director.
But in some instances, a brain injury can impact a person’s physical ability to walk, much like Hansen’s case.
A blow to the head from the result of a traffic accident, fall, assault or sport injury or an aneurysm, anoxia (lack of oxygen), stroke, tumor or an infection such as encephalitis can cause damage to the brain.
The damage may produce a diminished or altered state of consciousness, which results in the impairment of cognitive abilities and physical functioning that may be either temporary or permanent.
“People with brain injuries prefer to be by themselves a lot of the time because it can disable them to a point where they can’t communicate, read or write the way they used to,” said Johnson. “This house is often the first step in getting them out in the community.”
The association opened the clubhouse for its members last year, thanks to a partnership with Career Development Services, an organization that looks to create inclusion in the community by offering volunteer and employment opportunities for individuals with barriers. The clubhouse, located in the alley way near Jubilee Park, is used as a community kitchen, a place for crafts and a home to a few residents that take part in programming.
The introduction of the non-clinical house was a real community effort.
A once neglected Trail house was scrubbed clean, painted and furnished with help from many local businesses and volunteers.
“This is a celebration that we’ve come this far,” said Johnson.
Though the association loves to take on projects of this kind, Johnson said it is always looking to raise funds to operate the home and offer support and respite for families of individuals with a brain injury.
“It’s the families that are left to take care of these individuals most of the time,” she said, adding that taking on such a responsibility really does change one’s life.
About 8,000 to 14,000 B.C. residents suffer from a brain injury each year, according to the BC Brain Injury Association (www.bcbraininjuryassociation.com). This works out to about 21 to 38 incidents per day in the province.
To find out more about what programs are offered by the West Kootenay Brain Injury Association visit, www.braininjury.kics.bc.ca or contact Johnson at 250-304-1259.