We’re continuing with our affiliate highlight series, this time turning our eye to Aphasia Nova Scotia in Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada).
What Makes Aphasia Nova Scotia Unique?
The variety of life backgrounds, skills, and interests of the people who contribute to its mission makes our group unique. Members and volunteers not only include people with aphasia from both rural and metropolitan areas in Nova Scotia but also their families and friends. We also have Canadian and international students pursuing their studies in Speech-Language Pathology or related disciplines. This has led our association to experiment with novel solutions over time, with the aim of improving our strategies to reach our goals.
Great Success Stories
Philip is from New Waterford, Cape Breton. In 2013 he had the stroke that left him unable to speak, with complete paralyzes of the right side of the body. The trauma was immense; Philip didn’t have the ability to do even the simplest of tasks such as picking up the phone to ask for help. Since he lived alone and stricken by hemiparesis, he crawled around his apartment for two and half days before his next door neighbor came over only to find out something was terribly wrong.
In the aftermath of the stroke, he could answer only yes/no questions and had to rely on his family members to speak for him. Suddenly, all the things that we take for granted – talking, walking, showering, and turning over in bed – were the most challenging tasks.
In the five years since his stroke, Philip hasn’t stopped appreciating the bliss of having been given a second chance at life. Three years ago, he joined Aphasia Nova Scotia as a member, and he regularly partakes in the annual camping events held during Labour Day weekend at Brigadoon as well as the monthly expressive cafés in nearby Sydney. Although the consequences of the stroke are still present, Philip has gained a whole new and improved life that seemed impossible soon after the devastating trauma.
He is a strong advocate of the imperative to be resilient and keep trying because when it comes to aphasia, there is nothing to lose and everything to gain. When asked what message he would wish to transmit to other people with aphasia, he answers “Keep pushing yourself forward, and every time you look back along the path you traveled to get here, you see how far you’ve come.”
They Love What They Do
What we like the most about our work is observing how inclusivity and support have had an increasing impact on the engagement and motivation of our members––both within the context of the association, contributing to strengthening our community, and in their lives more generally.
Services and Support Groups
Over the past six years, Aphasia Nova Scotia has established different programs aimed at offering social opportunities for people with aphasia and their friends, families, and colleagues. This is aligned with our belief that strengthening interpersonal relationships and opportunities to practice communication skills in a safe environment is critical to a meaningful life.
Currently, the most important programs we offer are our Aphasia Camp and expressive cafés. Aphasia Camp is a partnership between Aphasia Nova Scotia, March of Dimes Canada, and Dalhousie’s School of Human Communication Disorders. It is a weekend-long retreat held at the Brigadoon Village, Nova Scotia. Camp activities include art, boating, swimming, music, archery, drama, campfires, cooking, and other recreational activities that, as one camper said, make participants forget that they have aphasia. This coming year, the camp will be held from August 31st until September 3rd. Participation is open to any person with aphasia.
The mission of the expressive café is to improve communication skills using expressive and receptive activities in a safe environment where individuals with aphasia and their family and friends can interact with others who have been impacted by aphasia. Activities include conversation, games, brain gain cognitive activities, guest speakers, support, and friends. Currently, expressive cafés are offered monthly throughout the province.
Do you live in the Halifax, Nova Scotia area? Contact the Aphasia Nova Scotia for speech services and support groups.
We’re spending 2018 highlighting our affiliates in order to make it easier for caregivers to find services for their loved ones. Are you an affiliate of the NAA and would like to be highlighted in a future installment? Please fill out the form and we’ll contact you.