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Out of the Blue

This Out of the Blue animation project was led by clients of HEADWAY Dublin who all have suffered an acquired brain injury, in collaboration with the Institute of Art Design and Technology (IADT) Dun Laoghaire. You may not have heard the term before but you probably know someone who has suffered an Acquired Brain Injury. It is usually caused by a sudden and unexpected event that could happen to anyone – a stroke, a bleed on the brain, an infection, a tumour, a fall or a traffic accident, for example. It is estimated that up to 30,000 people in Ireland, of working age, are living with the long-term consequences of a brain injury.

HEADWAY is a long-established service provider, but may not be as familiar to you as some other larger not-for-profits. However, it has been in existence since 1985. The goal of HEADWAY’s staff is to support clients to make the most of their potential, improve their quality of life and increase their level of independence.  HEADWAY has a Helpline and offers rehabilitation services in four locations in Dublin, in addition to services in Limerick , Kerry, the South-East and Cork. They provide counselling and support groups for family members, as well as the person with the injury.

This project came about through a group of HEADWAY clients in Dublin. They were keen that other people with hidden disabilities caused by their brain injury would know that they could contact HEADWAY for services and support.  From their own experiences, the clients knew that the more hidden – emotional, behavioural, cognitive and psychological – impacts of brain injury tend to be less spoken about than more obvious changes, such as physical changes. This is the reason they wanted hidden disability to be the focus of this creative awareness-raising project.

One of the clients, Derek Cummins, previously worked on an animation with IADT, while he was being treated at the National Rehabilitation Hospital, in Dun Laoghaire, after suffering a stroke.  Derek and HEADWAY staff member, Sara Sabbioni, approached David Quin, Co-Chair of the Animation Programme in IADT’s Department of Film and Media, earlier this year, to see if it might be possible to work together on a project. David felt that one of his animation students, Jessie Flynn, would fit the bill nicely. The group was joined by Ruth Lunnon, HEADWAY’s Information & Support Officer, Sara secured funding from the Dublin Northwest Partnership Community Fund and things took off from there. The HEADWAY/IADT the team carried out nearly all of the work remotely during the Spring and Summer with regular design and progress meetings online.

Many hours of detailed work, creative brainstorming, meetings and discussions, culminated in the final product – an animation lasting 1 minute, 44 seconds, that is voiced by the clients themselves. The piece beautifully and simply gets across some key messages: that a brain injury can happen to anyone any time; it is not a challenge that people need to meet alone – there is help out there; and that life can be good again.

HEADWAY’s services are free of charge – made possible through government funding, grants, fundraising and donations. If you’d like to make a donation,  you can visit www.headway.ie/support-us/make-a-donation/ or their Facebook page.

Why not visit headway.ie to learn more? If you know someone who needs support, they can call HEADWAYon Freephone 1800 400 478, email to helpline@headway.ie or live chat with a staff member on the website.

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