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Headway Member DJ James Shares his Story

On Wednesday, June 7th, approximately 150 individuals gathered at Queen’s Park in New Westminster to raise awareness for ABI. This event was run by the Strive Centre Vancouver and Strive Centre Headway New West, offering an inclusive venue for participants, caregivers, and members of the community.

Food was offered, along with games, swag, dancing, and live music by DJ James. James also gave a fantastic speech and told his story of recovery. Below is his speech.

Hi. Most of you know me as DJ James but today my name is just James. I suffered my stroke in August of 2010. This event has changed MY life in a major way with all but the entire loss of my speech, the loss of certain mobility, and I could say only two words. After two days in hospital, I started having severe seizures up to 17 times per day. I was moved to the critical care unit (CCU), so my seizures could be controlled first.

Then I came back to the second floor and started my speech-language therapy and physiotherapy. Here, I re-learned how to say my name “James” again. I was so happy! I then continued to learn more single words, but I could not put a sentence together.

When I was discharged from hospital, I was given a book called “Let’s Talk about Stroke”, which is funny because “I couldn’t talk!” I was given no support… no Social Worker, no speech therapy, no physiotherapy, and no occupational therapy. It took 6 months and the help of my good friend John to get me the help I needed because of my Brain Injury; I was required to do a lot of paper work – which I couldn’t do because of Aphasia.

I finally started speech therapy through the Acquired Brain Injury Program. During this time, I worked on improving my memory for words, putting words into sentences, and improving my texting. You don’t understand the respect I have for text. Texting was my only way of getting the words out that I could NOT say or write, texting was my tool to express what I needed, even if I was sitting next to the person I was trying to say it to.  Texting was and still is so important to me. 

It’s been 6 years and I am very fortunate to have had the Stroke Recovery of B.C., Columbia Speech & Language, and Headway New West helping me.

I am getting some of my life back through sheer da ter ma nation and by taking therapy for my Expressive Aphasia. I know my speech is getting better, but I still need help to improve some more.

In my “former” life, I was a Professional DJ, and I’m working hard on gradually getting back to that life by doing the music for some Brain Injury events like B.L.A.S.T Camp, Sea-to-Sky Aphasia Camp, Headway, and Semiahmoo House Society.

The Speech therapy is what keeps me moving forward to my goals. I keep working on my speech from the Guildford Aphasia group, and with my heart I have learnt to help others with a Brain Injury and I try to make them smile and relax so they can re- learn and make others smile. As someone with an Acquired Brain Injury, I feel strongly about sharing my positive stories with other people so they understand how we live successfully with our brain injuries daily. For example:

  • I have spoken to students in the UBC program to help them understand Aphasia and Aphasia Recovery.
  • I share my experiences with people I meet including bus drivers or Facebook, and with as many people as I can talk to.
  • I participated in a video for the Stroke Recovery Association of BC to help raise awareness about language and communication recovery after strokes.
  • For the last year and a half I have lived independently in my own Apartment with the Langley Timbers Apartment Program through Cheshire Homes Society.
  • I volunteer at the Salvation Army Thrift Store Aldergrove and do clothes tags and much more.

There was a worker from Headway (Megan) who helped me re-learn how to be a DJ. Headway helped me re-learn how to cook and much more. I also get the opportunity to socialize with all you great people.

I have received so much help from STRIVE LIVING SOCIETY with Care Workers and Headway New West since my Acquired Brain Injury, so I want to give back through volunteering as a DJ and try to help in any way that I can. I wouldn’t have come so far without STRIVE LIVING SOCIETY and today I have the honour to speak to all of you. From the bottom of my Heart I want to THANK all Strive Workers and friends.

Ladies and Gentlemen thank-you for letting me talk about my Brain Injury and now it’s time to go back to being DJ James.

Thank you for sharing your inspiring story, James! It means a lot to us.

An ABI Survivor Makes Waves with Pool Therapy

Weekly pool therapy has changed Kevin Fuson’s life and restored his mobility. Exercise has been and continues to be an essential component in Kevin’s recovery process. His dedication to recovery, positive attitude, and volunteering efforts are exemplary.

Kevin sustained an Acquired Brain Injury and experienced significant memory loss. Eventually his memories returned and became a source of motivation. For two and a half years he didn’t even consider getting out of his wheelchair. The return of his memories changed his perspective, especially when he could recall playing hockey from 2 a.m. until 6 a.m. prior to his injury. Kevin played sports his whole life and considers it an important social and physical activity.

This compelled him to look online for potential exercises and he discovered pool therapy.

“Exercise was the one stimulant to evolve the brain. Exercise is paramount. The more exercise I did, the more memory I got back,” Kevin said.

A lady bought raffle tickets for pool therapy and put his name on it. His name was drawn and he received one hour of free pool therapy with a therapist. After his first session he said, “Hey, this will work for me.”

After five visits Kevin was able to throw his walker away. He paid for the lessons out of his own pocket at the Aldergrove heated pool and continues to attend once a week. Pool therapy allowed Kevin to walk again and became the key to his recovery.

Kevin is a member of Strive Living Society’s Assisted Independent Living (AIL) program and resides with a Home Share provider. His progress has been in learning tasks such as cooking and cleaning and has been progressing to more independent tasks on a regular basis. He continues to volunteer his time regularly and pool therapy has made him completely mobile. Kevin is driven to utilize the program and all that it has to offer. His positive attitude and dedication towards fitness is inspiring.

Kevin says that his experience in AIL has been fabulous so far and that his care providers are a great fit. They joke around all the time and his cooking, household tasks, and cleaning abilities have improved noticeably. Everything has been a big learning experience and he continues to explore his newfound freedom.

He has some advice for others going through a similar journey. “I would say don’t be so concerned about the memories. It was like I was living it but I couldn’t put names or faces or times. The hardest part was when the memories came back. Memories turned into motivation. I’m getting better and braver every day,” Kevin said.

Kevin recommends asking about pool therapy right away in order to expedite the process of receiving funding. He prefers heated pools because it is harder to pull a muscle.

Kevin has volunteered his entire life and started out by coaching sports, police runs, and walks for multiple sclerosis. He enjoys assisting people at Brookside on and off buses, and to picnics. He wants to help people experience things they may not be able to without his help.

“I’m gung ho and geared to help,” Kevin said with a smile. “I’ve had such a great supporting cast throughout this journey, including family, Brookside, and Strive. This team has made my journey a lot easier.”

What compels him to keep volunteering?

“Maybe my volunteering is a way of giving back because I have an appreciation of people in those positions. Living through it gave me a chance to speak one-on-one. Prior to my disability I didn’t even know these places exist. That’s what makes me come back. I get a chance to give back,” Kevin said.

Strive Selected as Charity of Choice for Fundraiser in Vancouver

Lip Sync Battle Benefitting Strive June 1st!

Awesome news! Strive has been chosen by A Thinking Ape Entertainment Ltd. as their charity of choice for the 2017 Tech’s Got Talent fundraiser. They are planning a series of fundraising events including a silent auction and competing in an epic lip sync battle on June 1st. Thank you SO much for your support, A Thinking Ape!

On June 1st A Thinking Ape is going head to head with Vancouver tech companies in Tech’s Got Talent, an EXCELLENT charitable lip sync battle at The Imperial in Vancouver! All proceeds raised by A Thinking Ape will benefit us (Strive!)

They’ve got a whole schedule of in-house FUNdraisers planned, but anyone can donate to our Chimp campaign here. Want to help us out? Please “like” or share posts on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Tickets to this incredible fundraising event are available here. We are really excited to be a part of this fundraiser.

Strive to Participate in the 2017 Big Bike Fundraiser in Burnaby

Strive’s enthusiastic team of close to 30 participants and staff will return again this year to ride the Big Bike! All funds raised support the Heart & Stroke Foundation. Last year the Strive to Ride team raised $2708 in total and this year it is our hope that we will take it even further.

Our Big Bike ride will take place on May 17th at the Burnaby Home Depot. It’s an awesome way to be active, team build, and support a fantastic cause.

When you donate or raise funds for Heart & Stroke Big Bike, you help ensure that critical research in hospitals and universities across Canada can continue. And you’re helping work towards our shared vision: Healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke.

To donate to one of our riders, please click the link below and select your rider of choice. Thank you for your support! It means a lot to us.

 Check out our Strive to Ride team page here!

Strive to Ride in the 2016 Big Bike Fundraiser

Jennifer Publishes her Powerful Story of Recovery

Jennifer has written a refreshing and honest story of her journey through illness and the lengthy process of recovery and healing. Jennifer was recently nominated for the Courage to Come Back Award and she deserves that recognition. This nomination inspired her to take the time to write down her incredible story and create a website. Jennifer is part of Strive’s Assisted Independent Living program and we are so proud of her courage and determination. She is a very talented writer and we recommend reading her full story. Below is a brief excerpt.

“In June of 2013, I moved into my new Family Care Home with Mira and her lovely family. I have my own suite, with a bedroom, bathroom, living area, kitchenette, and a large patio and yard where I grow flowers and vegetables. All the amenities are within wheelchair driving distance, and Mira provides me with cable, Internet, Netflix, and Wi-Fi. Since arriving here, I’ve continued to push myself, practicing walking on the treadmill, stretching my shoulders, and most importantly, always trying to do things for myself before calling for help. This strategy has helped me improve my life in all kinds of ways, from my independence to my ROM. And being willing to try new things has allowed me to learn to use transit, to travel the ferry to visit my parents, to get into a car, to go to dinner without my chair, and to have the confidence to go anywhere in this world and do anything in my imagination that I set my goals for.”

 http://adayinthelifeofacripple.weebly.com/

Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) Awareness BBQ a Resounding Success! 

ABI BBQ Prize Wheel2On Monday, July 11th, 131 individuals gathered at Queen’s Park in New Westminster to raise awareness for ABI. This event was run by the Joyce Strive Centre and Headway, offering an inclusive venue for participants, caregivers, and members of the community.

Food was offered, along with games, swag, dancing, and live music from DJ James. There was an interactive Brain Health Station, where participants learned how daily activities can improve their brain health and increase functioning. Also present were two fantastic guest speakers.

Tony Mok is a brain injury survivor and BC Brain Injury Association Board of Directors member. He is also an active advocate and participates in his local community brain injury programs. Tony discussed his personal experiences with brain injury recovery, as well as the future direction of brain injury coordinated services in British Columbia. ABI BBQ Group ShotABI BBQ June & Katryna

Marthe Love is the partner of a brain injury surivor and a powerful advocate for her husband’s recovery. She struggled to navigate the community of brain injury services, but was relentless in her persuit to engage Rick in programs that would benefit him. His story of determination and recovery is remarkable and desmonstrates the body and the brain’s ability to continually improve when you have the attitude, support, and the opportunity to do so.

Feedback from participants has been very positive! A number of people approached organizers wanting to know more about our Centres and programs. Most of the resources and information sheets were gone by the end of the day.

Thank you to everyone who attended and/or helped plan and coordinate the event. Sincere thanks to our staff, volunteers, participants, DJ James, Tony Mok, and Marthe Love. We look forward to seeing you all again next year and continuing to improve this fantastic annual ABI Awareness event!

A Powerful Speaker and Survivor of an Acquired Brain Injury Tells her Story

JenniferJune is Acquired Brain Injury Awareness month and we would like to share a story about Jennifer, an individual in our Assisted Independent Living program.

One week ago Jennifer had the courage to share her story and gave an incredibly moving speech at Fraser Health’s Acquired Brain Injury Program, Community for Everyone Awards event in Coquitlam. Below is an account of her story in her own words.

In 2009, due to mounting fears of the H1N1 influenza, Jennifer’s physician recommended that she take the combination H1N1 seasonal flu shot. Several weeks later she started to notice increasingly concerning symptoms such as double vision, falling down, and inability to swallow. She went to the hospital multiple times to address these concerns without any clear answers. Prior to receiving the flu shot, Jennifer had been recovering from a severe strain of the flu and her immune system was already reduced. Unfortunately, she reports the antibodies in the vaccine started to attack her brainstem.

Jennifer was admitted to hospital and while there she was placed on a ventilator and went into a coma. She was diagnosed with Bickerstaff’s Brainstem Encephalitis, resulting in an acquired brain injury. After coming out of a coma she slipped in and out of consciousness, finding herself unable to communicate with those around her.

Jennifer spent 18 months in the hospital and had endured countless medical tests, persisting physical agony, and feelings of hopelessness. Jennifer started her journey of recovery at a group home in Langley and focused on recovering, increasing her strength, and mobility. She made huge strides during her time there.

In 2013, Jennifer moved to one of Strive’s community support homes, located in Surrey. She reports that this is where she finally developed independence and autonomy. With the support of her Care Provider in a safe environment, Jennifer increased her independence in many different areas of her life. She is now able to prepare meals, clean her home, access transit independently, go grocery shopping, and take care of her banking. Jennifer is determined to continue to increase her independence and is always challenging herself in new ways.

Jennifer’s speech at the ABI Award event blew us away and we are so proud of her progress, attitude, and willingness to share her inspirational story. Thank you, Jennifer.

Assisted Independent Living Care Providers Win the Residential Award from Fraser Health

AwardCecilio, Ina, and Daisy Granale won the Residential Award (pictured on the left) and we couldn’t be more proud.

They received the award for the best residential home in all of the Fraser Health Authority, Acquired Brain Injury Services. Residential includes: a facility, group home, apartment program or community support home that has demonstrated excellence in supporting an individual with an acquired brain injury to be more independent. This also indicates that they have provided quality care that has maximized the potential of the client or successfully transitioned a client to a lower level of care. The magnitude of this award is incredible!

Congratulations Cecilio, Ina, Daisy, and Nicole! Thank you for everything you do for our Assisted Independent Living program here at Strive and those we serve. This recognition means a lot to us. 

Strive to Participate in Burnaby’s Hats Off Day Event

Hats Off Day2Strive will be participating in Hats Off Day this Saturday, June 4th in Burnaby! Come explore a trove of Jungle Fever themed delights!

Come visit the Strive tent between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the Community Zone, on the 3800 block of Hastings Street, between Ingleton Avenue and Esmond Avenue. The Community Zone hosts 20 selected non-profit groups and organizations, all offering an array of activities for the whole family.

Get wild at our thrilling jungle booth! We’re proud to present two prize wheels, face painting, colouring, and plenty of unique prizes. This is an incredible free event and parade in the Burnaby community, definitely not to be missed. For more information on Hats Off Day click here.

JM Social media pic Dec 2015

One Participant’s Journey; Stroke Recovery and Triumphant Return Home

There’s no place like home. One of Strive Living Society’s participants, James, has completed his rehabilitation in their Assisted Independent Living (AIL) program and is now returning home to his very own apartment. He spent the last six months living with his wonderful and supportive care provider, Ola.

Strive’s Assisted Independent Living program provides accommodations and supports for individuals with traumatic brain injury, mental health diagnoses, as well as physical, mental, and developmental needs. The goal of the AIL program is to assist people to live independently by helping them to develop life skills and maintain a high quality of living.

For James, it all happened quite suddenly. He operated a forklift for 35 years until one morning he wasn’t feeling well and called 911. The next thing he remembers is waking up surrounded by family at Surrey Memorial Hospital. Doctors told James he had a stroke and that he would be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Rather than being discouraged, James began doing physio and slowly regaining strength in his limbs. He moved to the Yale Road Centre, a short-term stay unit for clients who are waiting for placement in a care home. He met a group of individuals there who had been through similar experiences and was able to ask questions and find support.

Eventually James decided to get in contact with Strive and became part of the Assisted Independent Living (AIL) program. This program takes each individual’s needs into account and finds homes that are the ideal match for both the home share provider and individuals in service.

James was shown several homes and chose Ola’s because they hit it off immediately. They shared a love of food, the location was ideal, and had easy access for his family to visit. James also got along well with Ola’s children.

“It felt right,” James said during an exit interview with Strive.

James made great friends in a Stroke Recovery Group, which he attends weekly. He can now walk to the Yale Road Centre and back, up to 70 minutes and counting. He started doing hobbies again, going to the driving range, and gaining confidence in the kitchen. He began cooking once a week for his care provider’s family and introducing them to new dishes. After some practice, he began cooking all his meals and grocery shopping independently. His care provider supported him throughout his stay by assisting him with transportation and encouraging his friends and family’s visits.

How does it feel to be going home now? “Exciting, nervous, looking forward to it. If I didn’t have my apartment to go back to, I’d stay here with Ola. It has worked out so well, it’s such a warm, welcoming environment,” James said.

James’ advice for others at the start of a similar journey is to, “Push yourself. I did extra exercises in my room, I walked more than they recommended, and I was determined to get back what I lost. Nurses and doctors can only tell you so much. It’s up to you to go the extra mile to get better. I had to realize there is nothing I can do about it (his stroke) now, but I can control what happens from here. My dark days have made me stronger.”

Since the start of the program James has lost 80 pounds and is now a healthy weight. Surrey Memorial Hospital nurses came to visit the Stroke Recovery Group and asked if anyone would like to volunteer as a speaker and share their experiences. James volunteered because he wants to give people hope and share his humbling recovery experience.

“I want to tell them that yes, it’s hard now, but you can work on it and it will get better. You have to have patience. I realized it was part of the journey,” James said.

The Assisted Independent Living (AIL) program is tailor-made to suit the needs of each individual and accommodations can include a full separate suite or a shared environment.

For more information, click here.

For more program information, or to apply to be a care provider, contact the Director of AIL at: shannon@striveliving.ca

Strive to Monaco Fundraising Gala a Success

The inaugural Strive to Monaco fundraising gala was a resounding success on November 14, 2015. Guests and attendees enjoyed a fun and lively evening of friendship, information sharing, delicious food and drink, entertainment and casino tables, all in support of the ABI Community.

Guest speakers shared tales of inspiration while community partners shared invaluable resources and sponsors donated generous gifts. All proceeds raised from this event are being used to enhance Strive’s programs and services to directly benefit individuals living with brain injury.

We wish to thank each and every person who made Strive to Monaco come to life: the Strive to Monaco Committee Members and Volunteers, the Usual Suspects Band, the Anvil Centre, BC Brain Injury Association, Michael Coss, Glen Orris, Ronnie Paterson, and all the generous sponsors; Michael Morrison Corporate Video Productions, QAI Laboratories, Valentus Clinics, Maple Ridge Chrysler Jeep Dodge, Bell Canada, NewGen Technologies Corporation, Ketchum Communications Ltd., Force Four Entertainment, Community Connections, Ellen and Norm Duinker, Spagnuolo and Associates, Harris and Company LLP, and Joy Lontayao.

Please enjoy these photos captured from the event.

Glen and Michael Mike and Angela The Usual Suspects Nozi Michelle Loretta Sarah David Izabela John Gabs Sunny Shannon Crystal and Family BCBIA and Valentus Blackjack AIL Team AIL Table Craps Crowd Silent Auction Elsa Nozi Daneille Erin Sarah

Strive Video

Watch our video clip about what Strive Living Society can do for you here! This video was created to highlight our Acquired Brain Injury Services and promote the Strive to Monaco Cocktail Gala Fundraiser held on November 14, 2015. Special thanks to Michael Morrison, Eunice Lee, and Andre Fernandes for the making of this video!

Strive Now on Twitter and Instagram

Social media addicts are now able to follow Strive on both Twitter and Instagram!

Keep up with Strive’s activities and events on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter so you don’t miss out on anything.

Feel free to send us your comments, posts, photos, and events. We’d love to hear from you!

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@StriveLiving

The Incredible Story of a Boy with Development Disabilities Finding a Place to Strive ˜ Lorie

“We first learned about Strive through our Community Living BC social worker once Alexander had graduated from high school and we were looking for quality programming for him. I had also been searching the Strive website about other programs on the Lower Mainland. We visited the Headway Centre in New Westminster and received such a warm and friendly greeting and had fun participating in a music session. We then learned that Strive was opening a new location called Strive Centre on Joyce Street in Vancouver on June 1.

In early June, we set up an appointment at the Strive Centre and we have been thoroughly enjoying quality programming there since then! We have also been enjoying services with the Footprints Day Program team every Thursday at our local bowling alley since July.

Whether we are with the team and clients at Strive Centre or Footprints Day Program, we are always greeted with warmth and kindness by both clients and staff members. Staff are so supportive of our family and are genuinely interested in Alexander. We found that Alexander was very sad after leaving high school, he was really mourning that loss of seeing friends and staff each day and the transition was very, very difficult for him.

In addition, we had suffered great sadness and tragedy in our family as we lost our daughter and Alexander’s paternal grandmother within 11 months of each other, our daughter right after Alexander’s graduation in June 2014 and Grandma in May 2015. We had travelled to Ontario for 3 weeks after losing our daughter and then to England for 5 weeks last Fall. Alexander’s life was totally turned upside down and inside out. I have found that once we started to attend the quality programs at Strive, he seemed to become more of his usual optimistic and cheerful self.

Alexander is a very social young man and really enjoys meeting new people and the warmth he (and all of us) have received from Strive, really has helped us all to heal and find a place for ourselves in which we feel we belong. Walking through the doors at Strive Centre is like walking into a family home where everyone is truly happy to see Alexander (and all of us). Strive has helped to give Alexander his bounce back!”

The activities are also helping him with his motor skills (for example painting and bowling all help with fine motor coordination). I have noticed his fine motor skills are becoming more refined and he is becoming more motivated to use these skills. Small group activities have really helped to have Alexander shine socially once again.

We love the fact that the staff all telephone and email us to make sure that we are abreast of any new activities or events that Alexander might enjoy, the staff go that extra mile! We can’t thank the staff and clients enough for all their support, it has been such a very difficult time for us all and yet Strive has really helped us to find the fun back in our lives. We will be forever grateful.”

Alex

 

 

Strive Living Society Launches New Facebook Page

Along with our new website, Strive Living Society is pleased to showcase a brand new Facebook page as well.

Our goal is to use the Facebook page to bring together the Strive community in an engaging and dynamic way. Our page will connect everyone who has anything to do with Strive and share events, ideas, pictures, moments, and opportunities.

Feel free to send us your comments, posts, photos, and events. We’d love to hear from you!

James Poon Donates Artwork to Strive

On December 1, 2014, James Poon unveiled his new work of art titled “Embrace All”. Over one year ago, James Poon was commissioned to create a piece of art for the bare walls of the new head office. After a year of hard work, James surprised Strive Living Society with a painting which he describes as something different from his usual medium.

James, a young man living with an acquired brain injury, is a member of the New Westminster Headway Centre where his artistic talent came to the attention of Strive. James has created works of art for two other Strive locations and this is his third.

James Poon, Artist

James Poon, Artist

“Embrace All” is a painting which merges both the adult world and the world of children into one landscape. While the background mountains and forest depict the reality of adult perception, the foreground is a playful visual as seen through the eyes of a child. Yet, the free birds represent the ability of children to enter the adult space and vice versa in the child-like world.

Embrace All

English