Adventures of a BEST Superhero: A mask is a superpower! Read about it below (and check out the superhero rule).
For more info on COVID-19 and keeping yourself and our community safe, click here.
💚The more we know, the more we grow.
The COVID-19 virus continues to spread throughout communities across Washington State. All of us at BEST understand how devastating and challenging all of this is, especially for many in our brain injury community. We know because we, like you, are part of this incredible community.
Together, lets continue to grow our knowledge to keep ourselves and others healthy and safe.
We are committed to ensuring that general guidelines and Washington State requirements, vaccine status, and relevant links are provided to make navigating these confusing times a little easier. We want you to have the information you need to make the best decision for yourself and your family.
Today is World Brain Day!
Created in 2014, the first brain day was launched on July 22nd of that year. The annual event was designed to help promote awareness on brain health and wellness on a global scale.
At the Brain Energy Support Team (BEST), we believe that our BEST strategy for brain health and wellness is empowerment. Empowered brains means better self-care, knowledge and self-advocacy!
For us, every day is World Brain Day.
We welcome you to peruse this very website and blog for information, tips, strategies and inspiration to empower your brain to live your best life possible.
Here’s to our brains!
What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s a-happening?
I was 14 when the smash album became a Broadway sensation. Jesus Christ Superstar ruffled more than a few feathers, but to this rebellious teenager, it was a personally freeing experience.
But that’s a story for another time.
Norman Jewison, the film’s director, said, “These kids are trying to take Jesus off the stained-glass windows and get him down on the street.”
It was about making something relatable for those, like myself at the time, struggling to find meaning and trying to make sense of life; looking for direction.
What does this have to do with CogniCon?
Last year, when we launched our first cognitive convention in Second Life, there were those who scoffed, those who questioned the seriousness of the idea, and those who dismissed us. Then COVID-19 spread like wildfire through our communities and online connection suddenly meant more than anyone could have imagined.
Many in the brain injury community tried navigating multiple-person, real-time, video platforms like Zoom. Others held on to the idea that they could resume their lives in a matter of weeks. BEST built on what we were already doing.
BEST already hosted video meetings, facilitated teleconferencing, offered online workshops and presentations, and worked from our virtual PEER Center in Second Life. CogniCon was a way to creatively reach and support those with brain injury and their families.
A year has passed. Many are still isolated, trying to make sense of things, and looking for direction. For those of us who participate in virtual worlds the isolation feels less sharp, social interactions make sense, and we continue to build our relationships and communities.
I invite you to join us in Second Life for our 2021 CogniCon. We’ve got a terrific schedule planned with engaging speakers, networking opportunities, music, and more.
I’ll bet everyone has heard that playing games is good for your brain. Any game helps, be it board games, card games, video games, or puzzles. And engaging in a variety of games helps different parts of our brain heal after a brain injury and stay healthy and strong.
There are so many benefits to playing a game. Games reduce stress and, also, reduces blood pressure through the release of endorphins. Playing a game with a loved one or friends is a great way to stay connected and strengthen relationships.
But what about COVID? you ask. You don’t need to be in the same physical space with others to stay connected or play a game together.
Next time you call a friend to catch up suggest a game you can play together or have a friendly competition over. For example, if you both like Sudoku see who can complete the most puzzles by the next phone call. Or if you both enjoy playing chess then text one another your moves (at least one move a day to keep the game going).
It’s so important, especially with the added challenges and change brought on by the COVID pandemic, to make the effort to be engaged with others as best we can. Play can be board games, card games, telling jokes, a rousing round of charades.
Here are some games to develop and support key brain functions:
I love to play games. Some of my favorite video games include Skyrim, River Run, and the old Donkey Kong. Board games? I don’t think I’ve ever sat down to a board game I didn’t like.
A friend recently asked me why BEST didn’t have games on the website. I didn’t have an answer. My mother enjoyed playing games at the AARP website. My partner and I enjoy playing games on our phones. So, why didn’t BEST have games our members and friends could play?
Well, now we do!
We have been offering discussion groups, workshops, and presentations in Second Life since 2009 and opened our official Second Life office at Etopia in 2010.
In May of 2020 we moved all of our programming online and into our main campus; also at Etopia. Because of the restrictions the COVID-19 pandemic placed on our community BEST deepened other Second Life collaborations with long standing partners like Peninsula College in WA, Whole Brain Health in Second Life, Virtual Ability, and others. In November 2020 BEST assumed ownership of Etopia as part of our online suite of service platforms.
What’s the benefit of using a platform like Second Life for education and skills development for individuals with brain injury?
Safe Spaces For Learning & Practicing Skills
We can create situations that engage participants in scenarios within a safe environment, at their pace, with coaching and peer support. They can develop key communication skills by interacting in a situation-specific context. They can relearn transactional skills by purchasing objects or negotiating with vendors. They engage in various situational role-play activities that give participants the opportunity to practice decision-making and prioritization skills. And they engage in scenarios that help them navigate behaviors they are want to change.
Engaging in these activities reduces the anxiety of going into similar real-world situations with little or no experience.
Additionally, the scenarios can be easily and quickly modified to present new challenges or address key concerns of participants and their coaches.
Reducing Feelings Of Isolation & Depression
Many people with physical and cognitive challenges live in social isolation. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated an already difficult situation. Second Life offers people a chance to meet others and share in social activities they otherwise might not have. Others may have a physical impairment, and Second Life gives them the virtual experience of full mobility and freedom.
Some of our participants have shared stories of going to live concerts, theater events, shopping trips, ice skating, bike riding, and a variety of other activities that they cannot do in the real world either due to COVID restrictions or the challenges of their brain injury. “The friends I have in Second Life are real friends. It’s not a game, but a kind of social media. Better than Facebook,” Tess
Etopia hosts dances, tai chi classes, a book club, discussions on healthy living, organics, and more that BEST program participants can attend and enjoy. These activities also give our program participants a chance to engage with people outside of our BEST group.
Availability Of Resources
There are resources available to our participants in Second Life that BEST participants are encouraged to explore. For example, the MAYO Clinic in Second Life hosts virtual events on diseases for residents and even includes a bookstore. Virtual Ability hosts two annual conferences; International Disabilities Rights Affirmation Conference (IDRAC) and the Mental Health Symposium. There are PTSD programs, resources on diabetes, a region dedicated to Parkinsons, and much more.
From classes to conferences, night clubs to shopping malls, Second Life offers an array of experiences that help participants re-engage after a brain injury, learn new skills, form new friendships, and rebuild their lives.
Visit our BEST in Second Life section to learn how you can join us. Here’s a short video about Etopia.
Gloria's career as an independent nonprofit consultant, trainer, and writer spans over 30 years giving her lots to talk about. She has a deep passion for sustainability, both environmentally and organizationally. Enjoy her perspectives on community, development, and tales from her virtual world travels.