Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance
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2277 Highway 36 West, Suite 200 Roseville, MN 55113-3830
Phone: 612-378-2742
Toll Free: 1-800-669-6442
Fax: 612-378-2789
Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Press Release

Brain Injury Association of Minnesota
34 13th Avenue, Northeast
Suite B001
Minneapolis, MN 55413
Phil Gonzales
Public Awareness Associate

Department of Human Services Employee Receives Elinor D. Hands Award
Award from the Brain Injury Association of Minnesota showcases professional dedication to individuals with brain injury

(MINNEAPOLIS - May 9, 2008) – Deb Williamson of the Minnesota Department of Education received the Elinor D. Hands Award, presented by the Brain Injury Association of Minnesota, at the 23rd Annual Conference for Professionals in Brain Injury. This award, named in honor of Ellie Hands, the Brain Injury Association of Minnesota's first Executive Director, in recognition of the immense impact she had in shaping services for people with brain injury in Minnesota, is presented annually to an individual who has significantly advanced the cause of brain injury services.

"Deb Williamson breaks new ground in highlighting the issues experienced by children with brain injury," says Ardis Sandstrom, Executive Director of the Brain Injury Association of Minnesota, "She forges ahead in addressing the collaboration between school districts, the Association and all State Departments. Deb works to ensure that all children with brain injury have access to supportive services as they develop within the education system."

Within her first year of serving as the statewide TBI consultant for the Department of Education, Williamson initiated the TBI Education Network which has been an invaluable resource for educators serving students with traumatic brain injury. The Network has been extremely productive and has enabled the Association to expand and improve its services for students. It has also helped the Association explore the effectiveness of its systems in different venues throughout Minnesota.

One of Williamson's greatest contributions is the creation and organization of the Brain Injury Association of Minnesota's annual Family Retreat for children with brain injuries and their families at Camp Courage in Annandale. This camp allows children to spend time with other children experiencing issues similar to their own, and serves as a vital learning experience for parents as they come together to share success stories, bond over the challenges they may experience and learn ways to overcome those challenges. This year fifteen families and twenty-seven volunteers participated in the Family Retreat.

"The Family Retreat gives families the ability to understand that there are other families in a similar situation to them and build solidarity as they go back into their daily lives," says Lee George, Volunteer Manager at the Brain Injury Association of Minnesota. "Deb's contributions really help us attain our core values of collaboration and people centered services."

About the Brain Injury Association of Minnesota
Celebrating 24 years of service, the Brain Injury Association of Minnesota is the only statewide non-profit organization dedicated to serving the 100,000 Minnesotans who live with a disability due to brain injury, their loved ones and the professionals who work with them. The Brain Injury Association of Minnesota has programs and services designed to enhance the quality of life and bring the promise of a better tomorrow for all persons affected by brain injury. For more information, please visit www.braininjurymn.org or call 800-669-6442.

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2277 Highway 36 West, Suite 200 | Roseville, MN 55113-3830 | Phone: 612-378-2742 or 800-669-6442