What’s going on between the ears? And what’s the point of a helmet, anyway? Kids want to know. The good news is they can find out this spring at Brain Day in Ottawa. Established for ten years, this unique educational program aims to prevent brain and spinal cord injuries and to raise awareness of neuroscience. “We hope for students to walk away from Brain Day with the knowledge and tools to protect themselves (and their friends and family),” says James D’Souza, Brain Day program associate for Parachute, a national organization dedicated to preventing injuries and saving lives. “Brain Day Ottawa has a goal of reaching a minimum of 2000 students.”
Created by neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Tator, the program started in 2004 with 30 kids in a Toronto classroom. Last year, over 18,000 students across Canada participated in Brain Day. It’s a half-day in-class presentation for kids in Grades 4 to 6 with a goal to get them thinking about what they can do to prevent injury.
“Ottawa is our second largest Brain Day site,” James mentions. It’s also a site that offers programming in English and French. The local effort is led by pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Michael Vassilyadi and this year four University of Ottawa medical school students are organizing the presentations. They’ll take place in elementary school classrooms across the city, starting in April. There’s still time to arrange for one to take place at your school. If your request can’t be met this spring, you’ll be put on the list for next year.
It’s worth the wait. Brain Day’s hand-on activities teach youngsters about how the brain is structured (what parts are where), how it influences the senses and how to keep it safe during play. “Each presentation includes a helmet-fitting component,” James notes. “Students can bring their helmets to Brain Day and learn about how to fit and wear them properly.” If you’re a parent, you can support Brain Day by educating yourself and your kids about preventing brain injuries. Start at www.parachutecanada.org. To become a Brain Day coordinator or volunteer, contact James at 647 776-5106 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.