Gary Anaka has the uncanny ability to make people laugh will discussing brain health.

Celebrate brain differences at Spirit Square

Top brain-based learning facilitator, Gary Anaka, in his engaging and interactive style, will speak at a free community event

Top brain-based learning facilitator, Gary Anaka, in his engaging and interactive style, will speak at a free community event packed with fun activities for the entire family.

Anaka, while discussing brain health and care, has the uncanny ability to make people laugh.

He reminds us of those familiar situations such as frantically looking for our glasses only to find them on top of our head.

Many of us can relate to these ‘forgetful’ moments in life, but do we know what it is like to live with a significant brain difference?

The Celebration of Brain Differences is intended as a light hearted event to bring awareness to a serious topic; Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). FASD is an umbrella term describing the range of permanent birth defects caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol. It is best described as a brain based disability with behavioural symptoms.

We typically acknowledge that life creates challenges for people with mobility impairments or visible developmental disabilities, but what about people who live with an invisible brain difference such as FASD?

The invisibility of FASD can be attributed the fact that people with FASD look the same as everyone else and come across as more capable than they actually are.

This creates expectations for the person to perform and behave at a level that is beyond their ability.

Often the biggest challenge people with FASD face is that family, community, and professionals fail to recognize the extent of the disability.

Children with FASD are continuously being told they could, “do better if they just tried harder” says Jenny McLeod, FASD Key Worker for the Campbell River and District Association for Community Living.

For these children, the emotional consequences of knowing that they are not living up to others’ expectations can be, “more crippling then the disability itself” emphasized McLeod. We often describe people living with disabilities as having, “special needs,” when in reality we all have the same needs, “to be loved and accepted for who we are” added McLeod.

This year in Campbell River, International FASD Awareness day is about accepting brain differences and recognizing strengths. McLeod wants the community to know that this event is for everyone, “we could all benefit from learning how to enhance the functioning of our brains.”

The event will open at 2 p.m. with the songs of ‘Inclusion,’ a group of music-lovers who spend their time, effort and talent to raise awareness that people are more alike than different.  Gary Anaka will join us at 3pm to discuss practical skills to care for our brains and strategies to support people with brain differences.

The afternoon will be packed with free family activities including Bounce-A-Rama, face painting, brain games, crafts, prizes, samples of brain foods and more!

If you would like further information on FASD or this event or please contact Tracy Hnidy at Kwakiutl District Council Health 250-286-9766 or Jenny McLeod at the Campbell River and District Association for Community Living.