The Saskatchewan Brain Injury Association (SBIA) has launched their March BrainLove campaign to increase awareness of the importance of protecting your head – a single head injury could be enough to permanently alter your life.
“BrainLove is an awareness and fundraising campaign that we established eight years ago,” said Glenda James, executive director of the SBIA’s Moose Jaw chapter. James explained that brain injury awareness month in Canada is in June. However, when she started with the SBIA in 2010, she was getting confused calls – because the US brain injury awareness month is in March.
“I thought, well, we’re missing an opportunity in March,” James said. “We should also have something going on.”
What came of that was a decision in conjunction with Brain Injury Canada to have March be a brain health awareness month. In partnership with Saskatchewan Royal Purple Association, the SBIA wants to use March to help people how to protect their heads and, going further, how to take an active part in keeping their brains healthy throughout their lifetimes.
The SBIA website notes that unlike a broken bone or transmissible illness, there are no drugs or techniques to cure a brain injury – once it’s happened, there is no going back.
The SBIA was founded by families whose children had suffered brain injuries. They provide support and service programs free of charge to families and individuals who live with the consequences of traumatic or acquired brain injury.
One of the interesting things BrainLove is doing this year, James said, is a poster contest in rural Saskatchewan communities. “Children are designing posters about how they take care of their brain health, how they prevent brain injuries, how they take care of their brain,” she said. “And then the Royal Purple lodges will gather and judge the posters and give out prizes.”
Sandi Lougheed, vice-president of Canada Royal Purple, said they are “very, very pleased” to be a contributing partner in the BrainLove campaign.
The Canadian Royal Purple is a not-for-profit service club-type organization that is dedicated to helping kids in their communities, and to helping their communities in general.
“The number one cause of death for people under 30 is brain injury,” Lougheed said. She added that “A brain injury is forever… So when someone suffers a brain injury, that impacts them for life, and often impacts their entire family for life.”
Another part of the campaign is the Save your Melon, Wear a Helmet program to make wearing helmets cool again. The program began as an initiative by Jim Hopson, then-CEO of the SK Roughriders and an SBIA Honorary Spokesperson.
“Why do people not wear helmets?” James asked. “The same reason they didn’t put their kids in car seats until it became a law, the same reason they didn’t wear seatbelts until that became a law… I’ve seen this so many times over the years, with car seats and seat belts and smoking.”
She said that the problem with touting personal freedom as a reason to not protect oneself is that there may be consequences for society as a whole.
Saskatchewan has no mandatory helmet legislation for cyclists. The Saskatchewan Medical Association has called for mandatory helmet laws, saying that about 700 young people are hospitalized each year for bicycle-related injuries. Of those, 20 die, while another 50 suffer permanent disability.
Another problem they want to solve, James said, is simply lack of awareness: “Absolutely every aspect of your existence, every millisecond of your existence, the brain is in control of that… you need to take care of it especially.”
To learn more about the campaign and to contribute, visit BrainLove.ca.