TORONTO — Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington and Indigo Books & Music CEO Heather Reisman became the first two women to receive the limited edition Hope-Knot icon of the Women’s Brain Health Initiative (WBHI).
The award was presented to them Sept. 10 at Reisman’s home by WBHI chair and head of Twitter Canada, Kirstine Stewart, at an exclusive fundraising event that raised more than $200,000 for research into women’s brain ailments, bringing the WBHI’s fundraising total so far to more than $700,000 since its founding in 2012.
The unique piece was designed by renowned Canadian jeweller Mark Lash.
“The Hope-Knot symbolizes both the human brain and the invaluable intelligence and insight women provide every single day, whether it is to family, business, academia, the arts, or to society in general,” said Stewart.
“Arianna and Heather are true champions of our effort to ensure that the looming crisis in women’s brain health becomes a top research priority here in Canada and around the world. We are thrilled to induct them as the first two members of the Hope-Knot 100 Club of the world’s most influential women who have risen to the top of their fields thanks to their own wonderful brains – which represent exactly what the WBHI is determined to protect,” said WBHI founder and president Lynn Posluns.
The WBHI is a Canadian charity that helps fight women’s brain aging disorders through investment in focused, innovative research at leading institutions around the world.
“It was frightening to learn that 70 per cent of all new Alzheimer sufferers will be women, and that women suffer from stroke, depression and dementia twice as much as men, and that a women’s healthy life expectancy is 25 per cent worse than a man’s,” Posluns said.
“Research today still focuses on men. In fact, at the grassroots level of research, it’s the male rat that is studied because the hormones in the female make it too complex.”
Some 85 guests attended the Sept. 10 fundraiser, and all received a sterling silver Hope-Knot pin.
Pauline Maki, a professor of psychiatry and psychology, and director of women’s mental heath research at the University of Illinois, told The CJN that “there are fundamental differences in the way that women’s brains age compared to the ways men’s brains age. It starts early in life. It starts with differences that women and men have in terms of their memory abilities. That, in part, is due to the fact that women have more estrogen than men do.
“In terms of predicting who will develop dementia we have come a long way and probably the fundamental shift in our understanding is what we can do to help ourselves. Keeping your heart health very strong is the best thing we can do at mid-life” she added.
“Keeping our brains active in novel ways such as learning a new language or a new skill. You need to exercise as well as keep your stress levels low. All of these things are associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease later in life.”
For more information, visit www.womensbrainhealth.org. To buy a Hope-Knot pin, pendant or cufflinks, visit hopeknot.myshopify.com.