Press Release: Surrey Place Awarded Ontario Brain Institute Funding

Ontario Brain Institute Announces $520,000 in Funding to Promote Care within Communities. 

The Ontario Brain Institute (OBI) has selected three community-led organizations to receive funding through their Growing Expertise in Evaluation and Knowledge Translation (GEEK) program. Launched in 2019, the OBI-GEEK initiative targets programs across Ontario that aim to improve the lives of people living with brain disorders. 

Community-led initiatives not only help reduce the burden on the healthcare system but simultaneously helps build capacity by addressing a crucial gap on a community level where care can be local, accessible, and more personal. 

“We believe it’s important to view the community as a key piece to the system of care for individuals. The OBI-GEEK program recognizes the significance of community-led organizations that are making a transformative impact in supporting people with brain disorders,”

“Our efforts are aligned with those of the provincial government to strengthen our mental health and addictions system – instead of duplicating programs or reinventing the wheel, we want to focus on the programs that are working, help to bolster their outreach and promote inclusion.”

Dr. Tom Mikkelsen, President & Scientific Director, Ontario Brain Institute.

The 2020 “OBI-GEEKs” are Alzheimer Society of Ontario’s U First! For Care Partners,  Kids Can Fly’s Peer-Administrated CBT-Informed Support for Post-Partum Depression and Surrey Place’s Mashkikiiwininiwag Mazinaatesijigan Wichiiwewin (MMW) Clinical Videoconferencing Program. The three select organizations will receive $520,000 in total funding over 2-3 years to support their initiatives. In 2019, OBI’s GEEK program provided $300,000 in funding over two years to three other community organizations

The groups selected this year all address vulnerable communities with great need: 
  • Alzheimer Society of Ontario’s ‘U-First! for Care Partners’ program provides informal care partners (family members and friends) across Ontario with consistent hands-on training, essential skills, and best practices in the care of persons with changes in behaviour due to dementia and other cognitive impairment. 
  • Kids Can Fly’s ‘Peer-Administered CBT-Informed Support for Postpartum Depression’ program trains women who have recovered from postpartum depression to deliver a nine-week group cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)-informed support program to women currently struggling with postpartum depression. 
  • Surrey Place’s ‘Mashkikiiwininiwag Mazinaatesijigan Wichiiwewin (MMW) Clinical Videoconferencing Program’ provides specialized clinical services and resources from urban Toronto to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) living in rural communities in Northwestern Ontario, via videoconferencing technology. By providing services when and where people need it, the program aims to support people with IDD to continue to live in their homes and community for as long as possible (aging in place). 

“Kids Can Fly is incredibly grateful for the funding from the Ontario Brain Institute which will allow us to partner with McMaster University to bring much needed support for the one in five moms suffering from postpartum depression in our community,”

“Putting Dr Van Lieshout’s brilliant concept into practice – of women who have recovered from PPD facilitating Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for moms currently dealing with it, will help us fill a local gap in service and ease the suffering of women in Brant. We believe it will become a best practice and help moms in other communities, as well as those in remote areas.”

Sharon Brooks, Executive Director of Kids Can Fly.

For more information on the 2020 OBI-GEEK participants, please visit the website

Additional Quotes: 

“People with developmental disabilities are living longer than ever before and addressing the unique age-related changes – particularly for those living in remote communities – is critical to maintaining the quality of life,” said Terri Hewitt, CEO, Surrey Place. “In cases where these issues are not addressed early enough, individuals are often inappropriately referred to long-term care facilities, placing people away from their community and family. Now, thanks to the support from the Ontario Brain Institute, Surrey Place has the resources to address these health problems by increasing the capacity to provide specialized care in northern Ontario and educating caregivers so that they can provide optimal care.”

Terri Hewitt, InterimCEO, Surrey Place – Mashkikiiwininiwag Mazinaatesijigan Wichiiwewin (MMW) Clinical Videoconferencing Program

“The Alzheimer Society of Ontario is thankful for funding provided through the OBI GEEK Program. Their support will enable the implementation and further evaluation of our new U-First! for Care Partners program. Through this program we aim to increase confidence and skills of informal care partners (family and friends) of people living with dementia to better understand and respond to behaviour changes caused by dementia,” said Cathy Barrick, CEO, Alzheimer Society of Ontario. “Evaluation of the program will tell us more about the impact on care partner-participant knowledge, confidence and ability to report and share information with the care team, care partner well-being, the incidence of behaviours in the person with dementia, and improved collaboration with the care team and will help to build evaluation capacity within our organization.”

Cathy Barrick, CEO, Alzheimer Society of Ontario – U-First! for Care Partners

About the Ontario Brain Institute 

The Ontario Brain Institute is a not-for-profit organization that accelerates discovery and innovation, benefiting both patients and the economy. Our collaborative ‘team science’ approach promotes brain research, commercialization and care by connecting researchers, clinicians, industry, patients, and their advocates to improve the lives of those living with brain disorders. Welcome to Brain Central. Visit for more information. Follow us on Twitter (@OntarioBrain). Funding provided, in part by, the Government of Ontario. 

The Growing Expertise in Evaluation and Knowledge Translation (GEEK) program provides funding, evaluation expertise, and support to community-led programs and services for people living with brain disorders. GEEK supports the sustainability, scale or spread of these programs, to improve the quality and quantity of evidence-based care in the community. 

For Information: 

Allison Garber 
Communications Consultant, Ontario Brain 
(902) 221-5254 

Fatima Khan 
Senior Lead, Communications, Ontario Brain  
(437) 999-6370 

By 2 months

Has your baby had their hearing screened? YES NO

By 6 months

Does the child?

Startle in response to loud noises? YES NO
Turn to where a sound is coming from? YES NO
Make different cries for different needs (hungry, tired)? YES NO
Watch your face as you talk? YES NO
Smile/laugh in response to your smiles and laughs? YES NO
Imitate coughs or other sounds such as ah, eh, buh YES NO

By 9 months

Does the child?

Respond to their name? YES NO
Respond to the telephone ringing or a knock at the door? YES NO
Understand being told no? YES NO
Get what they want through using gestures (reaching to be picked up)? YES NO
Play social games with you (Peek-a-Boo)? YES NO
Enjoy being around people? YES NO
Babble and repeat sounds such as babababa or duhduhduh? YES NO

By 12 months

Does the child?

Follow simple one-step directions (sit down)? YES NO
Look across the room to a toy when adult points at it? YES NO
Consistently use three to five words? YES NO
Use gestures to communicate (waves hi/bye, shakes head for no)? YES NO
Get your attention using sounds, gestures and pointing while looking at your eyes? YES NO
Bring you toys to show you? YES NO
Perform for social attention and praise? YES NO
Combine lots of sounds together as though talking (abada baduh abee)? YES NO
Show an interest in simple picture books? YES NO

By 18 months

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Understand the meaning of in and out, off and on? YES NO
Point to more than 2 body parts when asked? YES NO
Use at least 20 words consistently? YES NO
Respond with words or gestures to simple questions (Where's teddy? What's that?)? YES NO
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Make at least four different consonant sounds (p ,b, m, n, d, g, w, h)? YES NO
Enjoy being read to and sharing simple books with you? YES NO
Point to pictures using one finger? YES NO

By 2 years

Does the child?

Follow two-step directions (Go find your teddy bear and show it to Grandma.)? YES NO
Use 100 to 150 words? YES NO
Use at least two pronouns (you, me, mine)? YES NO
Consistently combine two to four words in short phrases (Daddy hat. Truck go down.)? YES NO
Enjoy being around other children? YES NO
Begin to offer toys to other children and imitate other children's actions and words? YES NO
Use words that are understood by others 50 to 60 per cent of the time? YES NO
Form words or sounds easily and without effort? YES NO
Hold books the right way up and turn the pages? YES NO
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By 30 months

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Understand the concepts of size (big/little) and quantity (a little/a lot, more)? YES NO
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Participate in some turn-taking activities with peers, using both words and toys? YES NO
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Combine several actions in play (puts blocks in the train and drives the train, drops the blocks off.)? YES NO
Put sounds at the beginning of most words? YES NO
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Remember and understand familiar stories? YES NO

By 3 years

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Understand who, what, where and why questions? YES NO
Create long sentences using five to eight words? YES NO
Talk about past events (trip to grandparents house, day at child care)? YES NO
Tell simple stories? YES NO
Show affection for favourite playmates? YES NO
Engage in multi-step pretend play (pretending to cook a meal, repair a car)? YES NO
Talk in a way that most people outside of the family understand what she/he is saying most of the time? YES NO
Have an understanding of the function of print (menus, lists, signs)? YES NO
Show interest in, and awareness of, rhyming words? YES NO
Read to stuffed animals or toys? YES NO
Scribble with crayons? YES NO

By 4 years

Does the child?

Follow directions involving three or more steps (First get some paper, then draw a picture and give it to Mommy)? YES NO
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Tell stories with a beginning, middle and end? YES NO
Talk to try and solve problems with adults and with other children? YES NO
Show increasingly complex imaginary play? YES NO
Talk in a way that is understood by strangers almost all the time? YES NO
Generate simple rhymes (cat-bat)? YES NO
Match some letters with their sounds (letter b says buh, letter t says tuh)? YES NO