Every year we choose an annual unit project that can be worked on by the staff and clients, ready for our biggest open unit event for the public. We always try to find a project that although the topic maybe well known, a bestselling storybook classic dating back to 1900 that carries a deeper meaning that staff and clients can relate to and are inspired by. The story of the Wizard of Oz has a number of well-known characters. Dorothy and Toto, Dorothy, a young orphaned girl, who has been uprooted from all she knew to live on a small farm, in a bleak and colourless landscape with an Aunt and Uncle she hardly knew. She always has with her, a small dog, her beloved, faithful companion Toto. The other main characters that we all know are the Tinman, The Scarecrow, and the Lion, she meets and takes them with her on her journey to the Enchanted City of Oz. The Tinman is the conscience of the group, he shows compassion and care, ensuring that their actions don’t hurt anyone else. The Scarecrow, the intelligent, cunning, character with good ideas that help the group get out of difficult situations, and finally the Lion, who presents as cowardly but actually, this character symbolises bravery and courage in the face of adversity. All of the characters have varying degrees of self-doubt, they see themselves as incomplete carrying with them an element of pain. Their sense of inadequacy makes them more relatable. We can relate our own experiences to theirs, as they search to find that something they believe is lost, or that they never had. The Tin man – a heart, The Scarecrow – a brain, and the lion – courage. They all undertake the journey together, following the yellow brick road to their goal the Enchanted City of Oz, where they hoped to find the answers they sought. The road they travel is not an easy road. It is uneven with up’s and down’s symbolising life’s journey. showing that life itself is not easy. Every journey different for each of us, never knowing what is around the corner, and understanding that as we travel we make friends and perhaps in some cases enemies.
The story begins at Dorothy’s Aunt and Uncle’s farm, a peaceful home where Dorothy has lived since orphaned. She has her faithful companion, a little dog called Toto who is her only friend, and brings her immense happiness as she often finds herself feeling very lonely. One day her home is enveloped by a massive cyclone and the house, she and Toto are carried away into a world she doesn’t know. Into a world filled with challenges she has to face, meeting characters that join her all travelling their own journey along the yellow brick road to Oz the enchanted city. How does this relate to any of us and in particular to brain injured people and their families? Just imagine without warning and out of the blue, a new course to your life’s journey is thrown at you or someone you love, a life’s event that throws you into disarray. You are spiralling out of control, whirling on and on, landing down into a place unfamiliar at the beginning of an unknown journey. Imagine the feeling of despair and isolation when in a split second life changes – when your history maybe distant memories boxed away in a place that you don’t know how to find. Where you are carried away by a “force of nature”, typhoon or cyclone, where you are waiting for the constant swirling to stop, and when it does finding yourself with no map to follow either into the future or back into your past. This could give us some idea of what it might feel like for someone whose loved one has a brain injury, how they have to watch on as their loved one’s life spirals out of control, where the brain injured person is battling to begin a journey into the unknown, to travel on their own “yellow brick road”. Every day they will have to face their own fears of the unknown, battle their own demons, and find strength and courage to win through eventually finding their own Oz.
Along the journey they will need support and understanding from family and friends, both will need to know that others are facing similar journey’s, to know they are not alone to find their own way of “ travelling the yellow brick road – a road to recovery and a new way of living their lives. Families will look on from the outside feeling helpless, as they know they have to be strong, shelving their own feelings of grief until their loved one is stable enough to begin to travel the unpredictable journey that is ahead. Family, friends, and the brain injured person will need help and support throughout the journey, from those that have travelled the road and can offer a helping hand or a listening ear, so that they know they are not alone.
In a recent survey, 95% of our service users report that attending Headway Northampton has significantly improved their quality of life and enjoyed their time spent here. All of this in turn provides much needed respite and support for carers and relatives
Headway Northampton has been there since 1982, offering this assistance to brain injured people, their families and friends. However times change, unlike the Wizard of Oz, brain injury is not a best seller. Until touched by something as devastating as brain injury we all naturally assume help will be there, offering a helping hand to lead them showing the way on the journey they are now facing. No-one really understands completely the power of the brain, so much is still not known about this very powerful part of us, the thing that governs everything we do, that makes us who and what we are. Because it doesn’t make the best seller list and is still “the silent epidemic” where disability is hidden, we need to speak up, so that resources are put in place. Those that have not been touched by brain injury, still don’t recognise that the brain injured are facing unknown challenges, trials and tribulations as they begin travelling on a new, unmapped journey, having to conquer their fears, they also have to fight for recognition, to enable access to the limited resources that are available.
In 1982 when Headway Northampton undertook the challenge of proving the need for a specialist service for brain injured adults, travelling its own “yellow brick road”, on the journey that was completely unknown. Over the past 37 years, although we have travelled a long way we still have a long way to go to find the “Enchanted city of Oz” where things would be different for brain injured people and their families.
Unfortunately they are not, and to continue with our work we need resources, we have no formal funding to continue on the journey.
We are asking that you take a moment to think about how much your life would change if a cyclone happened to you or your loved one.
Statistics show that there are 350,000 people admitted to hospital every year, that’s one every 90 seconds. We are one of the frontline services in Northamptonshire offering a listening ear or helping hand to those that contact us for support. Over the past 37 years Headway Northampton has helped hundreds of people walking their “yellow brick road”, we need your help to help hundreds more.
Hold fast to Dreams, for if dreams die,
Life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly,
Help us to continue to fly.
Contact us 01604 591045