Learn about how the Cridge Centre’s Brain Injury Recovery program is empowering those with brain injury to learn new skills, and find employment. “It means everything to me. I had a stroke in 2009, and I just kind of fell apart. Life became really hard.” Toni King is talking about how much the Cridge Centre’s Brain Injury Recovery program has helped her. “I was sitting at home, and I got a call from the Cridge saying they had a program for me, I’m like ‘yeah, ok…’ ” She’s grateful that she received that call. “I can’t believe that three years ago, I was sitting on my couch, really, not doing anything, just wasting away on the couch…and now here I am…it gives me chills just thinking about it.” Anna Hambly is one of those in charge of Food Service Skills Training at the Cridge Centre Brain Injury Recovery Program. “All these folks in the program had brain injuries,” says Hambly. “Remember, these guys were really amazing professionals before their injuries. A lot of them worked in the hospitals, in professional jobs, so now to be given another chance to do something amazingly well, is really therapeutic to them.” The program is a win/win, funded by the Victoria Foundation, because the meals being created will feed students at a number of Victoria area schools. “There’s no charge for participants to take the program,” says Hambly, “and once they’re in the program and working, then they’re actually paid as well. So it’s a paid position for them.” Stan Skretting is also grateful for the program. “I had a brain tumour in 2011,” says Skretting. “I found out about the Cridge cooking program, and took the cook training course, and I liked it so much I told my friends about it and they came too. That’s some of the other people here today.” Alicia-Ann Ackerman takes a break from making soup to explain that she, at one point, didn’t understand why she wasn’t coping with life. “I slipped and fell in the shower 18 years ago,” says Ackerman, “and I didn’t know what a brain injury was. Then eventually, I got into programs where I learned about brain injury, and that’s when I realized why I can’t do what I used to do.” Like the others in the course, Ackerman is proud to be part of this Cridge Centre program. “It helps with my brain injury. It’s a sense of purpose. And I learn great cooking skills, and I think I’m contributing to society.” When I ask if she’s also making good friends through the program, she heartily agrees. The Cridge hopes to spread the word about this program to others struggling with brain injury. “We are starting our new program second week of April,” says Deborah Robinson, from the Cridge’s Food Service Skills Training program. “It will run through until the end of June. We are looking for lots of new members – preferably 12 to 16 new members if we can get them.” Learn more about the Cridge Centre’s Brain Injury Recovery program.