BAW Across the Continents 2013: North America

We’ve seen how Brain Awareness Week is being celebrated in Africa, Asia and Australia. Today we’ll take a look closer to our home in New York City.

Turns out, there is a lot going on in North America. With more than 400 events, North America has more activities scheduled than any other continent. Events will be taking place in six countries: Canada, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, and the United States.

The US leads the way with over 375 events. These include exhibits, poster contests, classroom visits, lab tours, lectures, brain bees, and much more, in 42 of our 50 states. Events range from small gatherings like a senior activity center presenting the Staying Sharp DVD in Pennsylvania to citywide collaborations like braiNY in New York City. Promoting the positive effects that exercise has on brain health is a common event theme this year, including 5K runs in Oregon and Minnesota,  a fitness demonstration in New York, and a lecture in Virginia.

Many BAW Partners in the US are also taking their own creative approaches to Brain Awareness Week. In Philadelphia one partner will be reversing roles with elementary school children, who will judge projects by undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, and graduate school neuroscience students. At a college in Minnesota, students will be participating in a brain facts scavenger hunt across campus. Mental athletes at a college in Massachusetts will participate in four memory challenge events modeled after the USA Memory Championships. And, in Roanoke, VA, local restaurants and stores will participate in BAW through a challenge to invent and serve dishes with “brain-healthy ingredients,” such as blueberries, salmon, and pomegranates.

Both Canada and Mexico have 29 events taking place for Brain Awareness Week. Many of the events in Canada this year will be lectures, panel discussions, and demonstrations on topics from the effect of exercise on Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases to a neuroethics lecture on the ethics of doing research with brain-impaired adults who cannot sign consent forms. Raising awareness about the brain among  K-12 students is also a big part of BAW in Canada. Brain health and safety—especially in the winter sports—is a common theme. For instance, in Ottawa local medical students and brain-focused organizations will team up to teach elementary school children about the importance of wearing helmets during activities like cycling, skateboarding, ice  skating & hockey, tobogganing, skiing, and snowboarding.

In Mexico this year, the five senses and perception are predominant themes of BAW events. Hundreds of elementary school children learn about sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste through hands-on activities, demonstrations, and games at universities and classrooms across the nation. One event in Mexico, on “The Brain and Its Ghosts,” will demonstrate how the brain constructs reality and how brain disorders distort it through a number of film screenings and follow-up lectures.

– Simon Fischweicher

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