In 1999, Janet Novinger sustained two brain traumas back to back. This started a long journey of life with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): a journey of survival, learning how to function, and ultimately learning how to live with a changed brain and body.
Janet yearned for the support of others going through the same thing and promised herself that when she was able, she would create the kind of support group that would she needed early in her journey with brain injury.
In 2005, Janet created the Wallingford Brain Injury Support Group. The group has met monthly ever since in central Seattle, with a 2-year migration to Zoom during the COVID crisis. The group’s purpose, from the beginning, has been to create a space for people living with brain injury to give and receive support to/from each other.
As Janet moved forward in living with brain injury, she realized that the things that helped her live with a better quality of life were simply not being offered. That is when she started expanding the support group with programs that provided practical support to those living with brain injury.
In 2010, the support group started offering weekly yoga classes for people living with brain injury. With no funds to pay for the classes, Janet wrote a grant to the State of Washington and, after it was granted, hired a teacher who specialized in adaptive yoga. The effects of this weekly class were so profound that Janet trained as a certified yoga instructor, with a specialty in adaptive yoga. She has been teaching the weekly class since 2016.
Programs that followed included Creative Expressions crafts, goal-accountability programs, and personal futures planning class. All of these peer-powered programs build community, create support networks, and focus on how to realize the best possible recovery from brain injury.
After running programs for ten years, Janet began to see their impact as she watched her brain injury community flourish. Her vision expanded to include a dedicated physical space that would offer programs to those living with brain injury and serve as a back-to-work program for those who were ready to build new vocational skills. Ultimately this space would offer services for all community members, providing a way for the community at large to interact, gain awareness, and support those living with brain injury.
To help her realize this vision, Janet formed an Advisory Committee to explore the possibility of creating a 501(c) (3) corporation and create a name and coherent organization for the vision she was holding… In early 2021, this committee transitioned to a formal board of directors and in May of that year, Imaginal Network incorporated as a Washington State non-profit corporation.
Imaginal Network draws its name from the butterfly’s final stage, the imaginal stage, when the caterpillar in its cocoon reorganizes itself and becomes something completely different.