“We had Brain Waves at our school and the presenters were FANTASTIC – engaging, knowledgeable. Please let us know when and how to sign up for next year!” Kim Barber, teacher, Dorchester ON.
March 2, 2020 (Toronto, Ontario) – Brain Waves, a free, informative and fun half-day neuroscience presentation for students in grades 4 to 6, celebrates its 15th anniversary this year after reaching more than a quarter-million children across Canada.
The program began modestly in 2005 in a few classrooms in the Toronto area, with volunteer instructors from the University of Toronto medical school, says Dr. Charles Tator, a neurosurgeon and co-founder of Parachute, who co-founded Brain Waves along with Professor Pat Stewart from U of T’s Department of Anatomy.“I felt it was a great opportunity for children at this age to learn why it’s so important to protect their brain from injury because the brain is part of everything we do: we see, smell, touch, taste and even move with our brain.”
The program has evolved over the years to support 23 Brain Waves sites across Canada, where volunteer co-ordinators – veteran volunteer instructors – train others to present the course that includes activities from taste bud mapping to proper helmet fitting. Parachute provides activity booklets for the students, training and presentation materials, and the ever-popular Jell-O brain mould. All materials are available in English and French.
“The Jell-O brain we present during the course really brings home to the children just how fragile the brain is within our skull,” says Dr. Gray Moonen, who, as a medical student, volunteered for many years as a Brain Waves instructor and Toronto site co-ordinator; he now appears in a new series of “Train for the Brain” videos that teach volunteers how to do the activities in the Brain Waves course.
“This kind of neuroscience education is so important for children,” says Pamela Fuselli, Parachute’s President and CEO. “Economical Insurance has been a long-time supporter of this program and Canada Life’s support beginning in 2018 allowed us to build better digital assets, including the training videos, that means more volunteers can learn how to teach the course, even if they don’t live near one of our established training sites at a medical school or other health centre.”
Over the years, more than 9,000 volunteers have delivered the program in more than 6,000 classrooms across the country; since 2014, when course materials became available digitally, downloaded materials have reached an estimated 62,000 children whether in classrooms, at Guides or Scouts, or as part of other enrichment activities for kids.
Praise for Brain Waves
“I thought the presenters were engaging for the age group, well organized, professional, and simply did a fantastic job. I was very pleased.” Calgary
“This was an excellent program! I would have it back anytime. Very informative mixed with hands on. You must really know how the brain works and how kids learn best. Thank you for the opportunity.” Saskatoon
“Lots of visuals! Interesting slides! Relative to students. Good hands-on activities.” Alliance French Immersion, North Bay
“It was fabulous! Very engaging for everyone. Kids loved it.” Kitchener
“For my grade it was perfect, enough information and not too complicated so that the students lost interest. [The volunteer presenters’] enthusiasm and kindness toward the students made them feel that no question and no answer was inappropriate.” Ottawa
To learn more about Brain Waves: Parachute.ca/BrainWaves
Parachute is Canada’s national charity dedicated to reducing the devastating impact of preventable injuries. Injury is the No. 1 killer of Canadians aged 1 to 34, where on average one child dies every daydue to injury. Through education and advocacy, Parachute is working to save lives and create a Canada free of serious injuries. For more information, visit us at parachute.ca and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
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Vice President, Communications and Marketing