Behind each mask is a person that's been touched by brain injury as a survivor, parent, sibling, friend, neighbor, co-worker, or professional. Individual stories of Minnesotans with brain injury were highlighted along with their masks. Over the course of the project, the Alliance hosted numerous mask-making events across the state and in our Roseville offices. Group homes, support groups and community organizations held their own events while prominent Minnesotans – like playwright and storyteller Kevin Kling and NHL Defenseman and former Minnesota Wild player, Jordan Leopold – also got onboard to make their own masks.
Local filmmaker Jed Schelgelmilch documented the project in his film Unmasking which took home the Merit Award at the 2016 Awareness Film Festival at Regal Cinemas La Live Stadium. Jed's film was shown at numerous Unmasking events throughout the year. Since 2016, more than 1,400 have been created by surviors and family members of brain injury and stroke.
Many participants in Unmasking Brain Injury in Minnesota discovered the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance through their mask-making. We've shared the stories of several of these individuals in our Mind Matters magazine including those of Amber Rose Kordiak, Taylor Worley and Scotti Sterling. Each participant who spoke about the benefits of finally being able to express to those around them the feelings they’d been forced to keep buried deep in their hearts.
Unmasking Brain Injury in Minnesota's success can be counted in the sheer number of masks produced. But, more importantly, it can be counted in the outpouring of emotion and support at each event. In the faces of the family members finally understanding a little bit more of their loved ones' experiences. And in the forging of a greater and more unified brain injury community.