Any community that has individuals with the compassion, energy, and talent to take the initiative to create and run an organization with a mission to solely to help others, should consider itself extremely blessed. That help in some cases is in providing education and awareness about subjects that are related to things we do everyday, but may not be aware of what the devastating consequences could be. Meet this week’s Doer and Dreamer that is taking a unique and creative approach to help prevent some of those consequences.
Business or organization: Be Real About Injuries Now (B.R.A.I.N.) Programs INC.
B.R.A.I.N. is a non-profit organization whose mission is the prevention of brain injuries through education, awareness and healthy life-style choices for children and adults.
Where are you from originally?
I grew up in Highland, New York
What brought you to the Kingston area and keeps you in this area?
My husband and I moved from Highland to Saugerties in 2006. Not wanting to leave the beautiful Hudson Valley, we chose to put our roots down. I was finishing my master’s degree at the time in Special Education. Working as a substitute teacher in the local schools hoping for a full-time teaching job. After the birth of our daughter JoElle, it soon became evident that subbing was not a viable option. I stayed home for a year and half to see her first milestones.
Once she was eighteen months old, I landed a teaching position in a school for children with special needs. Working with people with disabilities is something I have been immersed in ever since I was little. I was excited to begin helping people with special needs in my own classroom.
The job was an amazing opportunity to learn about developing curriculum, equipment and empowering my students as well the classroom staff to do the best they can do each day and every day.
This position lead to an opportunity to work as a Therapeutic educator at the Northeast Center for Rehabilitation and Brain Injury. I quickly jumped at the opportunity to learn more. I never envisioned teaching adults with brain injuries but, I soon realized I loved this field!
My job was to assist people with cognitive tasks. Personally, I was drawn to those that struggled communicating their needs and wants post brain injury. Therefore, I created a curriculum to promote communication skills and worked collaboratively with the speech therapy department.
What is your approach to your business or occupation that makes you unique?
My approach that makes me unique, I am not sure if I am unique but I follow my heart and my heart is in prevention. After incorporation fees, lawyer fees, office rental and so on I realized I needed to work part-time to keep B.R.A.I.N. and myself afloat and I began bartering for services.
Thankfully with my office located at Seven 21 Media Center the connections and support have been tremendous, without the space at the media center I doubt B.R.A.I.N. would have made it into its second year.
We have just begun to find our niche in the brain injury prevention world and it is amazing. We have a group called the B.R.A.I.N. League consisting of children ranging in ages from 6-12 as well as teenage and adult volunteers working to create a prevention comic book. Each child has created a superhero that prevents brain injuries and through this multi-modality approach, they are learning how to be their own superhero that makes B.R.A.I.N. Safe Choices every day.
This group has grown into a superhero-training program, which we hope to have in schools. The kids learn about brain injuries, prevention, teamwork, exercise, healthy eating not to mention creating a comic book with the assistance of industry professionals. I just never envision the final goal resulting in me wearing the B.R.A.I.N. League costume.
What is your favorite hangout in this area and why?
My favorite hangout in this area is tough, I love to be outdoors. My whole family kayaks. Our daughter started paddling at three. Therefore, my favorite hangout is definitely, my kayak paddling on one of the great spots in and around the Kingston area. Some of my favorite spots are the Esopus Bend, Onteora Lake and Chodikee Lake.
When you are not in Kingston, what is your idea of a wonderful city to visit, and why?
Honestly, I am not a city fan However, what I love about cities is the history and diversity of the area. I love Kingston for its diversity the new trendy sections popping up and the historic areas. Therefore, when I travel I enjoy finding these areas looking for the hole in wall places that are the heart of the area. Finding out where the locals go. If I had to pick a favorite place, it is technically a village. I love Lake Placid. The history, the scenery, the new shops and the old colliding with the new to make for a fun weekend packed with the outdoors, fine food and events.
Tell us us something that we never would have guessed about you.
Something that the public would not know about me is that a little over two years ago my daughter started martial arts together at Triumph Karate. Our goal is to test for our black belts together.
For more information, please go to our website at brainprograms.org or contact Amy Luke at firstname.lastname@example.org