As a way to create an awareness of brain injuries and strokes, the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance is sponsoring an art project called “Unmasking Brain Injury in Minnesota.” Sheila Brandes’ students, with Robbinsdale Area Schools' Adult Academic Program, are a part of the project and recently had a chance to use art as a vehicle to share their stories of how a stroke or brain injury has affected their lives.
To facilitate the art project, staff from the Brain Injury Alliance gave each student a plain white paper mask along with paint, stickers, glitter, and markers. Students then decorated their masks in a way that expressed their experiences of daily challenges, hopeful emotions, and unforeseen anger that now shape their lives while living with a life-altering brain injury. The project is part of a year-long effort by the Brain Injury Alliance to collect masks of hundreds of brain injury survivors who participated.
Masks from Brandes’ students are on display until Feb. 1 at the Adult Academic Program located in the Crystal Learning Center at 305 Willow Bend, Crystal, MN 55428. In March, the masks will be on display at the Earl Brown Center in Brooklyn Center, MN for Brain Injury Awareness Month.
The Adult Academic Program (AAP) of Robbinsdale Area Schools offers a unique class for adults who have suffered a traumatic brain injury or a stroke. Sheila Brandes, the class instructor, helps her students recover skills in math, reading, and writing---skills they had mastered before their brain injury or stroke. Her class, however, goes beyond academics. While at school, students are able to build their self-esteem and confidence as they make their personal recovery.
“We offer a safe and supportive environment in our classroom,” explained Brandes. “We’ve built a compassionate community in our room. Our students are able to connect with other adults who have also had a life-changing brain injury or stroke.”
Tens of thousands of Minnesotans have had their lives changed because of a stroke or brain injury. According to Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance, approximately 100,000 Minnesotans are affected by a brain injury; and according to Minnesota Department of Health, 90,000 Minnesotans are affected by a stroke.
Annually, Robbinsdale Adult Academic Program provides instruction to over 1,200 students including those seeking to improve their English language skills or to improve their reading, writing, and math skills. AAP students can also complete their high school diploma, prepare for the GED, and get ready for college. The Adult
Academic Program is located in the Crystal Learning Center at 305 Willow Bend, Crystal, MN 55428 with additional classes located online and at Hennepin Technical College in Brooklyn Park.