Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

The Brain Builders Lab is a CCSA-led initiative on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and their impact on brain development. The purpose is to move the knowledge from the Brain Story into policy and practice. 

The kick-off event took place March 4–5, 2019, in Ottawa. It brought together professionals from across the country to discuss ways to integrate Brain Story science into policy, practice and public discussion.

CCSA selected 65 applicants to participate in the Brain Builders Lab, based on completion of the Brain Story certification course and their ideas on how to use the Brain Story in their work. Over two days, participants developed plans for projects designed to spread and embed Brain Story knowledge in their communities. This resulted in 36 projects, divided into eight workgroups.

Read the Meeting Summary Report from the CCSA Brain Builders Lab kick-off event, March 4–5, 2019. The report includes highlights from the event as well as lessons learned and next steps.

Over the two years following this event, attendees implemented their project plans with support from their workgroups and mentors. CCSA provided knowledge mobilization and evaluation support.

On February 25–26, 2021, participants in the Brain Builders Lab met again to showcase and celebrate the impact of their projects. This event involved screening and discussion of impact videos created by 13 of the projects. It also included speakers and panel presentations to discuss how to do this work in the context of COVID-19 and a presentation on next steps. The event concluded with an interactive session with Dr. Gabor Mate.

The event had over 100 registrants from 11 provinces and territories, including Brain Builders, their colleagues and stakeholders, and individuals who had no current Brain Builder connection but were interested in learning more.

Program for the Brain Builders Lab 2021 Celebration

Impact of the Brain Builders Lab

In the 2019–2021 cycle of the Brain Builders Lab, the following outcomes were achieved:

Across the 25 projects that completed the Brain Builders Lab, Brain Builders:

  • Created a total of 230 unique products (e.g., presentations, brochures, social media campaigns, etc.); 
  • Delivered 435 unique activities (e.g., staff training, workshops, learning events, etc.); 
  • Reached a total of 34,550 stakeholders, including members of the healthcare, education, family services and public safety workforces, organizational leadership and policy makers, and people living with or in recovery from mental health and substance use disorders, parents and the public;
  • 100% reported increased knowledge and awareness among their stakeholders;
  • 52% of those who measured attitude changes reported decreased stigma;
  • 76% reported practice changes;
  • 44% reported policy changes among their stakeholders, including 40% who mandated or encouraged the Brain Story certification as staff training; and
  • 64% reported better system coordination and collaboration.

Past documents

Read the Brain Builders Lab event summary report for highlights from the 2019 kick-off event, as well as lessons learned and next steps.



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