Track: Health and Well-Being
North Star: Commitment to Outcomes

Level of Learning: Learner

The workshop will consist of playing the Brain Architecture Game, an experience that builds understanding of the powerful effects of early childhood experiences on brain development and its lifelong impacts. With the help of Life Experience cards, the goal is to build a tall, sturdy brain using pipe cleaners and straws, and to see how well the brain stands up against life stresses by hanging weights on the structure. This tabletop game is played in groups of four to six and takes approximately 75 minutes to play with a quick introductory video and opportunities for discussion throughout and after the interactive game.

The workshop is practical and relevant for conference attendees because early life experiences affect brain development and lifelong health and social outcomes; however, many individuals in community-serving organizations have not been exposed to this knowledge nor understand how it reframes the solutions we can offer to help children and families achieve their full potential. Also, the workshop will share some of the specific brain science concepts and language that CUPS was exposed to as part of our Change in Mind experience.

Learning Objectives 

  • Build awareness of brain science and how early experiences affect brain development 
  • Demonstrate how brain science knowledge can improve our programs and services for children, adults, and families 
  • Through the provision of resources and tools, attendees apply new knowledge to their own organization


  • Emily Wong, research and evaluation manager, CUPS Health Education Housing (@CUPSCalgaryAB)
  • Amanda Rae Storteboom, director of integration and special projects, CUPS Health Education Housing (@CUPSCalgaryAB)

Emily Wong
Research & Evaluation Manager
CUPS Health Education Housing

Emily Wong is the research and evaluation manager at CUPS Health Education Housing in Calgary, Alberta. She partners with universities on research projects, applying the latest in brain science in the organization’s programs and services and leading internal evaluation processes and projects to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of CUPS’ programs. Her efforts in improving the organization’s knowledge translation and outcome reporting have assisted CUPS to be named a Top 10 Impact Charity in Canada for 2017.  

Passionate about improving the lives of vulnerable and marginalized populations, she has spent time working in research and policy analysis for various nonprofit organizations and think tanks in Ontario, Canada. Emily has a master's of public administration from the School of Public Policy at Queen’s University.

Amanda Rae Storteboom
Director of Integration and Special Projects
CUPS Health Education Housing

Amanda Rae Storteboom is the director of integration and special projects for CUPS Health Education Housing. She has been with CUPS for six years and has proven herself to be a committed advocate for both staff and for those living with the adversity of poverty and traumatic events to become self-sufficient.
Storteboom played a key role in the creation of CUPS’ ambitious Theory of Change, which advocates that by focusing on different domains of resilience, CUPS can support participants to move toward self-sufficiency. During that process, Storteboom immersed herself into learning about brain science and its potential application into CUPS integrated health care model as well as trauma informed culture development.  

Storteboom has shared her knowledge at multiple speaking opportunities through the Change in Mind Initiative, a two-year project that she led for CUPS. She also represented CUPS as a keynote speaker at several events across Canada and Great Britain on brain science and the theory of change. 

Storteboom completed her master's in business administration with Royal Roads University in August 2017, with a focus on applying brain science at CUPS and a thesis that examined the change process CUPS underwent to apply the science of building brains and resilience.