Robbinsdale adult ed program helps stroke, brain injury survivors
Learning is a lifelong journey, and the adults gathered in class at the Crystal Learning Center last Thursday were learning about "assumptions." It's a fitting word, considering that simply by paying attention to outward appearance, people could assume that those in the class weren't facing any challenges.

But in reality, they're hoping to reacquire lost skills.

"I was a visual artist and carpenter and handyman, and whatever ways I can make a living," said Brian Foster, a student from Minneapolis.

Foster is one of 30 students enrolled in this class for stroke and brain injury survivors, a program offered by the Robbinsdale School District.

Foster says he was diagnosed with brain cancer 14 years ago and hasn't been the same since.

"Simple things like left and right," Foster said. "I was shocked when I went in rehab and they asked me to add two numbers together and I was like, what are numbers?"

Sheila Brandes is the teacher who works day in and day out to get Foster and the others back on track.

"Yeah it's really great," Brandes said. "I often tell people that it's the best teaching gig in the district."

Yet she never said it was an easy job, that's because every brain injury and stroke manifests in a different way.

"I have had many students say things like, they can see the words on the paper but they just can't make sense of the words," Brandes said. "They can see them but they can't say them."

To help the students improve their skills and achieve their goals, she believes in a technique called kinesthetic learning, where learning takes place through physical activities.

"Things that they can move around with their hands to kind of help them re-learn the letters and the letter sounds," Brandes said.

It's definitely not a quick fix, but it's a starting point on a much longer journey for these students, and ultimately, a chance for a new life.

"I just want to keep trying, learning new, different things. new things, rather than trying to hang onto the past," Foster said.

The stroke and brain injury survivors class is a free class offered by the Robbinsdale School District. They have room for more students. If you know someone interested in joining, more information can be found on the district's website

Delane Cleveland

Feb. 28, 2017


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