Mindful Art Workshop

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The adventures of the Headway T-Shirt in Toronto!

Recently I’ve had a chance to visit England and walked through the doors of Headway Essex, an organization that provides brain injury care and support. I came in contact with Headway East through discovering their art studio website. I discovered Headway Essex through Dr. Carolyn Lemsky, Clinical Director at CHIRS introduced me to Steve Shears, Trainer and Psychotherapist at Headway Essex. Steve kindly showed me the agency and I had a chance to visit and meet the people at Headway.

Headway Essex

Headway Essex – 58b Head Street, Colchester, Essex

During my day visit, I had the opportunity to visit BounceAbility – Special Needs Trampoline Centre. Watching people of all physical abilities getting out of their wheelchairs and working on balance, coordination and stretching. There was also added “stealth benefits” (according to Andy Plowright, Service Manager) such as allowing another person to help you with your balance and relying on another person to support you on a moving surface can build trust and re-establish physical and emotional connections with another person. This supportive and trusting relationship is especially important for a person who have experienced physical trauma that have resulted in the head injury.

BounceAbility – Special Needs Trampoline Centre

Visiting the day program and meeting people at Headway was heartwarming. One person showed me his ankle foot orthosis (AFO) brace that is very well made and seems to be protective of sensitive skin areas in the lower extremities. The brace was red and the owner of this brace is proud to be a Manchester United Fan; in Toronto, our AFO brace are uniformly white.

Ankle Foot Orthosis

A Manchester United Ankle Foot Orthosis

I had a chance to talk about my meditation and art program which hopefully generated some interest in developing meditation and art programming for people at Headway. When it was time to part, I was given several information guides, newsletter and a large Headway T-Shirt. Andy Plowright, Service Manager at Headway Essex was apologetic that the T-shirt would not fit me but generous in his giving spirit and gesture of appreciation.

When I came back to Toronto, I wanted to do something special and carry on the momentum of giving. I was speaking with my colleague Amanda Muise, Behavioural Therapist about my excitement and ideas. I thought it would be cool for CHIRS and Headway to connect and a T-shirt could be a good catalyst.  We talked about who could wear this T-shirt and she suggested Mr. Rob Ashe.

Rob ordering a burger

Rob ordering a burger

When I told Rob about my idea and showed him the picture, newsletter and T-shirt, he was very excited about the idea. He eagerly put the Tshirt safely away in his backpack. When I saw Rob two days later, he had taken pictures of himself around the city with the help of his friend James.

Welcome to Toronto, Canada!

Welcome to Toronto, Canada!

Rob in front of Tim Hortons - a Canadian favourite for coffee lovers

Rob in front of Tim Hortons – a Canadian favourite for coffee lovers

Rob and I know each other through his participation in Mindful Art Workshop – Winter 2014. During the workshop, Rob learnt to meditate and try to do an art activity that was new to him. He made new friends whom he tries to keep in touch with. Rob was able to complete his art activity quickly and was ready to move on to the next task. So sitting still and waiting and listening was new to him. He is very articulate and easily shares his stories, successes and difficulties but this ability to articulate could overshadow others who had a harder time sharing their voices. As the workshop progressed, Rob learnt to sit back and listen. To reflect quietly, then use his articulate voice to deeply appreciate other people’s talents and gifts. He talked more about others and less about his stories and came to appreciate this new way of being. Below is a sample of his art work. He called this piece – Anointed.

Anointed by Rob Ashe

Anointed by Rob Ashe – art work from Mindful Art Workshop 2014

Rob in front of CHIRS - Community Head Injury Resource Services of Toronto

Rob in front of CHIRS – Community Head Injury Resource Services of Toronto

After taking a series of photographs, Rob and I sat down and I helped to upload the photographs from his phone. During the summer months in Toronto, there are several festivals and celebrations. Below are the places that Rob visited with his friends from CHIRS.

Rob at Hockey Night - a CHIRS program for persons of all abilities to have fun playing floor hockey in teams

Rob at Hockey Night – a CHIRS program for persons of all abilities to have fun playing floor hockey in teams

Rob taking the Subway Train in Toronto

Rob taking the Subway Train in Toronto

Rob with a street performer in front of Yonge/Dundas Square

Rob with a street performer at buskerfest in front of Yonge/Dundas Square

Rob with a street performer on Yonge Street in Toronto

Rob with a street performer at buskerfest

Rob in front one of his favourite places - HMV a store that sells music and movies

Rob in front one of his favourite places – HMV a store that sells music and movies

 

Rob with volunteers collecting funds to support Epilepsy Toronto

Rob with volunteers collecting funds to support Epilepsy Toronto

Rob in front of Yonge/Dundas Square holding purple balloons to support Epilepsy Awareness - a cause that is close to his heart

Rob in front of Yonge/Dundas Square holding purple balloons to support Epilepsy Awareness – a cause that is close to his heart

Rob and David Slonim, Mentor's Coordinator in front of Pape Subway Station

Rob and David Slonim, (Mentor’s Coordinator) in front of Pape Subway Station

Rob and his friend sitting outside her childhood school

Rob and his friend Jen, sitting outside her childhood school – a private school for girls

Rob at Spadina Subway Station in Toronto

Rob at Spadina Subway Station in Toronto “This shows the humanistic side to us. He was playing guitar and I waited for him to finish and I gave him some money and asked if he would like to take a picture together and he said sure”

Rob in front of the Old Mills. This is an important place as it is where he received his 25 years watch for working with the city.

Rob in front of the Old Mills. This is an important place as it is where he received his 25 years watch for working with the city.

Rob in front of David's Tea a popular place for tea drinkers to enjoy many types of teas

Rob in front of David’s Tea a popular place for tea drinkers to enjoy many types of teas

Rob taking a picture for his wife who is originally from the United Kingdom

Rob taking a picture for his wife who is originally from the United Kingdom because she loves Union Jacks or anything to do with England

When I arrived at work on Monday morning, I found a treasure inside my mailbox. When Rob and I were sharing stories and photographs, he had tears in his eyes. He said that “you couldn’t have asked for a more perfect person to do this task” as he loves to connect with people and especially people of all abilities. Rob understands that people with a brain injury may not have the same physical abilities as they did prior to the injury. Through his travels he wanted to share with people the places and events that he has access to and hopefully through these images, all persons may have access to these places and events.

Rob's Message

Rob’s Message

Rob's message

Rob’s message

This is Rob’s Message

Hi!! My name is Rob Ashe and I am a client at CHIRS (Community Head Injury Resource Services) in Toronto. When I was asked to have pictures wearing your group shirt, I took on the task because I feel strongly that groups wherever and whoever need to make contact and then we have a better understanding of each other and That is Great!!!!

I want to thank you for this opportunity and let you know that I believe that having a brain injury should not hold us back as we have much to say, much to experience and above all, much TO GIVE

Rob and his wife Amanda. “We’ve been married 19 years and she helps me a lot”

Rob and his wife Amanda. “We’ve been married 19 years and she helps me a lot”

I can’t begin to tell you how much this has touched my heart. Sometimes the work that we do can feel like work and there are good days and challenging days.  Some days are full of beautiful moments and some days are problem solving days. My motivation for doing this work is to help others, whoever comes to my door. Knowing that we can touch each other’s lives and share in meaningful moments is a good reminder for me of the goodness inside each person that I’ve met. I am sure many therapists, helpers, teachers out there will share in my experience that the work that we do is relational and it takes two to form a relationship. The support and encouragement I give to the clients that have come into my life are reciprocated in so many ways that surprises me when I need it the most. It is these moments that helps me to remember what is important to me. To help others knowing that we all have an important part in each others lives.

6 comments on “The adventures of the Headway T-Shirt in Toronto!

  1. Ailsa
    September 4, 2015

    Wow, that’s beautiful, thank you 🙂

  2. Carolyn Lemsky
    September 4, 2015

    Nice to see the connections. Thanks.

  3. Ajay Uppal
    September 8, 2015

    This was great to read…Touching!

  4. cotffce
    September 9, 2015

    Lovely to read this! So very touching and meaningful!

  5. Pingback: CHIRS / BIST member Rob Ashe gives UK brain injury organization, Headway Essex, t-shirt a tour of Toronto | Brain Injury Blog TORONTO

  6. Pingback: New moon rises at the mindfulness art workshop | Brain Injury Blog TORONTO

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This entry was posted on September 2, 2015 by in Art and tagged , , , , , , .

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