Allied Health staff at Broken Hill Health Service have joined with BH University Department of Rural Health on the Outback Neural Knitworks project to promote the benefits of brain health and general well-being.
Neurons are electrically excitable cells of the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves. The billions of neurons in your body connect to each other in neural networks. They receive signals from every sense, control movement, create memories, and form the neural basis of every thought.
The Outback Neural Knitworks project is based on the principle that yarn craft with its mental challenges, social connection, and mindfulness, helps keep our brains and minds sharp, engaged and healthy. Even knitting first-timers when creating woollen neurons in their hands, will at the same time forge new neural pathways in their brain. That’s what acquiring a new skill does; enhancing brain health in the process.
The University and Health service staff saw the potential to use this concept as an Arts in Health project to inform the community of the benefits of fibre crafting on brain health and general well-being. The project gained funding from the Far West Local Health District’s Arts in Health Committee and came to fruition.
Health students placed in Broken Hill have been enlisted to speak to community groups about the project and ask community members to start knitting, crocheting and wrapping neurons.
Allied Health professionals have also been involved and they are using the making of neurons as part of therapy for some of their clients.
Several workshops have been held to explain the project and demonstrate how to make a neuron. At one of the sessions we were lucky enough to Skype in one of the founding artists of the idea, Pat Pillai, who shared how Neural Knitworks came about and how helpful working with textiles has been in her personal journey.
“It has been exciting that so many groups have become involved across the community,” said Tracy Herlihy, member of the Outback Neural Knitworks’ group. Groups involved included Broken Hill Girl Guides, Staff and residents of Harold Williams Home, members of the Knit ‘n Yarn group , parishioners of the Broken Hill Anglican Churches, staff and students of The Broken Hill University Department of Rural Health, staff and clients of The Broken Hill Health Service and many other individuals from the Broken Hill community.
All the Neurons created so far will be on display during Science Week (14-20 August) in the foyer of the Broken Hill Hospital. We encourage the public to come down and interact with the display and there will be craft resources for anyone to create their own neuron and forge some new neural pathways! From here we hope to send the display around the community so other people can learn about neurons, knitting and brain health.
“We would like to thank and acknowledge the founders of Neural Knitworks for their great idea that we have been able to spread to our Outback Community of Broken Hill,” said Ms Herlihy.