Mackenzie Scharf is the program coordinator for the Comox Valley chapter of the Stroke Recovery Association of B.C. Photo by Scott Strasser

Mackenzie Scharf is the program coordinator for the Comox Valley chapter of the Stroke Recovery Association of B.C. Photo by Scott Strasser

Comox Valley stroke recovery organization creates new support group for survivors, caregivers

Program coordinator Mackenzie Scharf says awareness of local resources is lacking

The Comox Valley branch of the Stroke Recovery Association of BC (SRABC) is looking to establish more resources for the Valley’s growing population of stroke survivors.

Program co-ordinator Mackenzie Scharf said the local chapter is trying to drum up interest for a new stroke survivors and caregivers support group. The group plans to meet twice a month, while monthly information sessions on stroke rehabilitation will also be held.

“We had our first session today and nobody showed up,” said Scharf, on March 20. “I believe [awareness of resources] is lacking in the Comox Valley.”

The next meeting is scheduled for March 27. Following that, meetings are scheduled for April 17 and 24, and May 22 and 28. The meetings run from 10:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. and take place at the Courtenay library on Sixth Street.

The SRABC is a non-profit organization that provides stroke recoverers (and those affected by the disease) with information, resources, and programs when they’re released from hospitals. The organization was founded in 1979.

According to the SRABC, there are roughly 6,500 people in B.C. who suffer from stroke each year, with a growing need for services and programs for survivors.

The organization’s statistics also show that strokes have risen by 24 per cent among individuals in their 50s, and 13 per cent among those in their 60s. Both age groups are common demographics in the Comox Valley.

“It’s very easy going through the recovery process to feel like you’re the only one suffering from it,” said Scharf. “We feel having this group that can meet monthly will show they’re not suffering alone and they can meet people going through similar challenges.”

The local branch currently offers the Community Navigator program. Through the program, Scharf meets with stroke survivors for one hour to discuss their history, what resources they are using, and what resources they might not realize are available.

“It’s a chance for me to hear their story and figure out how we can better help them within the community and get them back to a normal way of living,” she said.

Scharf also mentioned a new program that the chapter will introduce next fall.

The Next Steps program — which she said has been successful in Vancouver and the Fraser Valley — is a mall-walking group for stroke survivors. Participants walk at their own pace through an indoor mall, with access to washrooms and seating areas if needed.

For more information on the Comox Valley chapter of the SARBC, or to contact Scharf about the stroke survivors and caregivers support group, email comoxstrokerecovery@gmail.com

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