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Sunday, April 15, 2012

About inspiring and being inspired

This was the second year in a row that I went to Easter Camp for stroke survivors in beautiful Squamish, BC. Last year, I was captured the friendly and vibrating atmosphere, the amazing people and conversations. This year it wasn’t any different.  We were greeted back like old friends and it didn’t feel like a whole year had passed. I remember last year, on my way back home, feeling a bit guilty about having had such a great time (again, this year wasn’t any difference). I felt this guilt as this camp really wasn’t about me. I was just there to volunteer some time, help out with a few things and introduce CE a bit. This was more about the Stroke survivors and their caregivers having a good time. I think they did.

Being inspired

This camp gave me plenty of opportunities to catch up with campers from last year and get to know new people and their unique stories. It gave me the chance to see how people have improved over the year and get to know a bit why. It also gave the chance to listen to what most people’s hopes for recovery were. I think the general consensus was that they are open for anything that might help them to make their lives easier or regain some function.

Other professionals also volunteered their time and it was great to observe them and listen to what they have to they about stroke and recovery. I think there were two major presenters I found very inspiring for different reasons.  Working independently gives me little opportunity for professional development; so I cherish every opportunity to be in the learner’s seat.

I enjoyed observing about Steady Feet, a program aiming to prevent falling, which is recognized and funded by the Ministry. For me, it was interesting to see how to approach it from a solely exercise view. The exercises she did and why she did them made sense. And I think most people enjoyed them, which I think is the most important part. It made me also appreciate the differences and why CE is more than an exercise program.

I enjoyed the talk of Dr. Yao about brain plasticity and rehabilitation options in a Question- and- Answer style. The content itself was not new to me, except how acute care for Stroke works in BC. I have heard a few things from my client, but Dr. Yao gave a wider overview. In all honesty, it was rather shocking.
I liked the way she explained everything, took her time to answer questions and had a genuine interest in what becomes of stroke survivors once they left the acute rehabilitation program.

The inspiring part of the talks and demonstrations for me was that CE is actually situated in the Zeitgeist of current neuro-rehabilitation understanding more than people might think. Our unique training and understanding does let us go the extra mile and address psycho-social concepts like motivation, cognition, attention, emotion etc. that become vital for further learning and rehabilitation. Plus, the awareness of those skills lets us adapt our teaching to teach the HOW more than the WHAT to do.

Being inspiring.

I also was scheduled to give a presentation on CE. I have had for a while now an outline on what I like people to know about CE. It’s usually pretty general and I like to put in different examples to give it some life. However, observing the other presentations; I told one of the organizers that I would teach standing up from a chair differently to people who had Strokes due to various reasons. She made me show her and then told everyone to attend my session to learn a different way. She called it a teaser to my presentation. And what a teaser it was, I had twice the people attending this time

So, after doing a general introduction about CE, I invited everyone who was interested to join me in learning to stand up (with my support if needed). I am usually really nervous about giving presentations; but once I started to teach standing up, I was on a roll. I was doing what I do best. I explained why we do things and some of the fundamental thinking about it. I kept emphasizing the teaching part and that the teaching depends on the individual learners and their current abilities. I showed examples of how we break down getting off the floor (very popular topic in that particular group). It was not the usual presentation I give, more a workshop; but people enjoyed it a lot and I had a lot of positive response to it. Being more at ease doing my thing, it sparked a bit of a “conductive glow.” With one or another that I said, I began to see that certain sparkle in their eyes- the one of hope.

However, I am very grateful that I had someone give me the right nudge in this direction and I am sure, I will use this in further upcoming presentations.

This was a great weekend. And I am looking forward to next year.


  1. Nice article, Anne. Thank you. I will put a link to it from our site.

    I like to think everyone gets something out of BLAST (Building Life After Stroke Together). Reading this was very reassuring and touching.

    There was a camp hosted by SRABC years ago. It was from it, that lifelong friendships were created. Something about BLAST is magical. Maybe we've all taken the name to heart and take pride in Building Life After Stroke Together.

    I felt the same, like we never left. Yet Easter 2013 seems a long way away. We'll all be looking forward to seeing you there.

    Thank you, so much for being a part of BLAST and helping us to create our BLISS. Better Life In Stroke Survival.

    1. Thanks Deb. Like I said I am looking forward to another BLAST!

    2. jim_walmsley45@hotmail.comNovember 24, 2012 at 11:18 AM

      Hello again, Anne. It was from Easter Camp that I met you. Our chat was sort of helpfu, as you said you could help me because of my stroke. We were interrupted as something else came up, butnever finished our conversation. Possibly we could meet again in your spare time?
      Take care, Jim[y] Walmsley.