April 14, 2015

Prior to coming to work at Rehab Planning Corp., as a Case Manager, I was employed at the Hospital for Sick Children as a nurse for 14 years, the last 6 of which I took on the role as Transitional Care Coordinator.   In 2009 I was given the opportunity to join the Awareness Committee, which is a subcommittee of the Brain Injury Society of Toronto (BIST). The Awareness Committee is a group of individuals comprised of industry professionals, both from the public and private sector and survivors. I eagerly joined and after the first year I began to chair the committee – which I did for 3 years before passing on the torch. In 2011 I also took a position on the BIST Board of Directors for which I am just completing my 3 year term.



The vision of the Awareness Event has always been to promote public awareness, as well as celebrate our extraordinary survivors. In the past we organized an annual awareness event that would fall in the month of June – which is Brain Injury Awareness month. Previous event venues have included Nathan Phillip Square and Mel Lastman Square where we gathered industry professionals, survivors and entertainers to engage the public in hopes to increase their awareness of brain injury.


This past year, however, our vision shifted as we realized that as fantastic as our one day event was, we weren’t achieving our mandate, which is to increase awareness, to the extent that we would like.   We decided to pull away from the one day event and instead focus on the amazing reach of social media and the worldwide web.

Hence the birth of the areyouaware campaign.   A new website was developed – which features facts about brain injury, links,  as well as survivor’s stories. In order to spread the word, teams gathered at various Toronto subway stations on June 11, 2014, (I personally was at Yorkdale station), and handed out business cards directing them to the website and stickers with the new logo. To further our reach we also took to social media by taking a “selfie” and posting in on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with the tag #areyouware. The results were very positive – the first month alone we had over 2000 hits – which is amazing for a new website and after our TCC blitz we had over 150 hits!



This coming year we hope to expand on our successful campaign with the ultimate goal of spreading the areyouaware campaign.   Stay tuned for more details and get your smile ready for your “selfie!”



About the Author

Tonya Flaming is a registered nurse with several years’ clinical experience working with children as a discharge planner in the areas of trauma, neurosurgery, neurology, intensive care, and burns and plastics. Prior to joining the Rehab Planning Inc. she worked at Toronto’s Sick Kids Hospital for 14 years, with the last six spent as a transitional care coordinator

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