SCIO Community Magazine
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A family linking hands around heart and paper cut-out of family unit.

Circle of Strength

Nineteen years ago, when I sustained my spinal cord injury, I clearly remember the worried faces of my supportive family members. They were my equal partners in this ordeal, making critical decisions, grappling with grief, and understanding the new way of life.

Lubna Aslam

Often family members impacted by a loved one’s spinal cord injury do not have enough supports that set them up for success. This in turn can add more challenges on the newly injured individual’s journey. Families need more support.

SCIO has been developing expansions to the Peer Program to better support family members of individuals with a spinal cord injury. The impact of an SCI on a family can be overwhelming and it is critical that we can extend peer support in a structured manner to family members. While SCIO has been providing 1:1 peer mentorship to those family members who have expressed an interest for some time we wanted to do more. The Bourassa Savaria Foundation stepped in to help make this happen and with their generous support our Family Connections series was born.

“Our family is a circle of strength and love…Our family with every birth and every union the circle grows, our family is a circle of strength. Every crisis faced together makes the circle stronger.”

– Harriet Morgan

We pulled internal resources and collaborated with experts to develop a seven-part workshop series that focused on key topics to empower family members. Some of the topics included coping with loss and grief, navigating relationship changes, stress management and rebuilding intimacy. These workshops also offer the opportunity to network with others who are in a similar situation. This has been a project that is dear to all of us involved.

In April 2020, the Peer Program was ready to launch our first Family Connections workshop series and then the pandemic hit! How can we expand services during these unprecedented times? With our dedicated and incredible staff at SCIO the answer is, very successfully. We quickly adopted the virtual platform, expanded eligibility, and have successfully delivered these series twice already and are currently gearing up for a third session.

The isolating period post SCI and the added layer of the pandemic has posed many challenges to our community, we are glad to be able to offer additional supports. If you are a family member or know of a family member who can benefit from attending Family Connections workshops, please connect with your local Regional Services coordinator or your Peer Program coordinator to learn more or contact [email protected].

Bourassa Savaria Foundation

Thank you to the Bourassa Savaria Foundation for their support of this initiative.

By: Lubna Aslam | Winter 2021

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