To mark the BC Brain Wellness Program’s third anniversary, we explored the question “What does the BC Brain Wellness Program mean to you?”
The answers from our participants, instructors and staff have been inspiring and illuminating and have reinforced the uniqueness and importance of our program and have guided us as we worked on our three goals: expansion, evaluation and sustainability.
Since April 2020, we have grown to offering 28 different programs, with a user base of approximately 2,000 individuals, delivering more than 2,500 hours of free programming to people in both urban and rural areas of British Columbia. We have added new programs including photography, tap dancing, an intergenerational program, and a series of Care Partner workshops. Through partnerships with UBC’s Department of Physical Therapy, we were able to complete more individual intake Safety Screenings, enabling increased participant access to our exercise classes. Building relationships with local community organizations has improved awareness of our program in different populations. Finally, several research projects are underway: Music to improve apathy in Parkinson disease, Impact 360 (combined exercise, nutrition, mindfulness intervention study), and Mediterranean Ketogenic diet intervention in Parkinson disease.
As the world began to open again, it was essential to evaluate our program in relation to the changes happening in our community. Through several measures, we reinforced that our program continues to be highly relevant and in demand and that it truly brings people together as a community. Our Participant Advisory Committee meets monthly and has been instrumental in providing feedback and guidance, particularly regarding our program delivery and our newly designed website and registration system. Through a series of focus groups with instructors and participants, as well as assessments and surveys, we learned what is meaningful to participants: the personalized approach, the strong community built, the mental, physical and cognitive health benefits, the ongoing nature of the program and the focus on function rather than diagnostic labels for participating in classes. Participants also requested some new classes, and an expansion to in-person options.
Going forward, it will be crucial to ensure that we can continue to provide and grow the program which is currently entirely funded by our amazing donors. This past year has shown that support and belief in our program continues to be strong as we were selected as one of four programs within the Faculty of Medicine to be featured at UBC’s Giving Day. We will continue to work with donors, develop fundraising events and collaborate with a variety of stakeholders to ensure financial sustainability.
What our participants are saying…
Brain Wellness has shown me that a balanced, integrated approach is what is needed to sustain proper health over the long term. [The program] has given me new vigour, a new outlook, a new chance to interact with the community, increased cognitive power—a new lease on life.
– Kolby Hughes
Exercise initially changed my life in my early 30s… it had improved my mood and allowed me to continue with my education and find work that I can really blossom in… this particular class has been great and these instructors are the best I’ve ever had. The way they provide exact instruction on which muscles to use. I’m more agile, I’m stronger, my mood has improved… overall I think they’re fantastic.
– Wanda Schulte
Receiving a diagnosis may make us feel separated from our social groups and we begin a journey of feeling alone, [the program] has really allowed me to have a lived experience of community.
– Anonymous Participant