than 2,000 individuals have been trained in the BrainWise Program since it was first introduced in 1995. Many creative people have taken the basic concepts of BrainWise and have applied them in their schools and organizations. Here are
some examples of how service organizations, community-based
organizations, non-profit organizations, schools, and
government agencies have used and are using the BrainWise Program:
Elementary School. Wendy Cameron, Kindergarten Teacher,
University Park Elementary School, Denver, Colorado:
Cameron field-tested the elementary school version of
BrainWise and began using it with kindergartners
in 1996. An award-winning teacher, she says she previously
had taught students many of the same concepts, but BrainWise provides a comprehensive package of ideas, providing a framework
and tools to help teachers do a better job. She found
that her students teach the skills to other children
and even to their parents. One parent reported her son
reprimanded her when she forgot to put on her seat belt,
saying, "Mom, you're using your Lizard Brain!"
Lower School. Sally Kennedy, Graland Country
Day School, Denver, Colorado:
Kennedy introduced BrainWise into Graland Country Day School in response
to her faculty's request for a program to "recognize
and identify good choices." Once the program was in place she reported: "Students are taking ownership and responsibility
for their behavior. The program is helping them solve
problems, think critically and make good decisions.
My goal is that when these kids are teens and faced
with decisions about drugs or sex, they can stop and
think about making the best decision." She reported that once the
program was introduced throughout the school, office
referrals were down 20 percent.
Middle School. Debbie Henehan, MS, Counselor, Sheridan
Middle School, Sheridan, Colorado:
counselor at one of five schools where BrainWise was
piloted in 1995, Ms. Henehan guided the program's
growth from a single class for high-risk girls to a
program that was taught to every student.
High School, Including Emotionally Disabled. Patricia
Austin, Counselor, Aurora Central High School, Aurora,
changes in the behavior of a student with Fetal Alcohol
Syndrome who had taken BrainWise prompted Ms. Austin to start a campaign in
the spring of 2002 to introduce BrainWise throughout
the Aurora Public Schools District, which serves a diverse
and low-income population of 31,533 students. She says,
"Many of the student are ill-prepared for a public
school because of poverty, emotional issues, and unstable
family lives. BrainWise gives teachers tools to help them
recognize they are responsible for their choices and
the lesson activities make abstract concepts very concrete
and easy to learn and apply."
College. Robert Knecht, Ph.D., Professor, Colorado
School of Mines, Golden, Colorado:
Dr. Knecht heard about the BrainWise Program, he immediately
saw how it would benefit students in his Engineering
Process classes. As part of the classroom work, he assigns students to work in teams
of five to solve a community design problem, but difficulties
arise when students are unable to apply higher-level
thinking skills used to solve engineering problems to
those involving people. With BrainWise, Dr. Knecht showed
students how to apply thinking skills to solve interpersonal
Teen Fathers. Matt Sena, Fatherhood Program Manager, Chugachmiut
Inc., Anchorage Alaska:
Sena has taught BrainWise to young men since 1998, and
currently teaches BrainWise classes to teen fathers
in Alaska. He formerly taught young fathers attending
inner-city Denver high schools. He is also part of the
newly formed Fatherhood and Families Collaborative Institute,
a consortium of agencies serving youth and young families.
His goal is to introduce BrainWise to teen father programs
Teen Drug and Alcohol Abusers and Children of Substance
Abusers. Flavia Lewis, MSW, Director, The Mile High Council
on Alcohol and Drug Abuse:
Council infused BrainWise into many of its programs,
including those provided to teens receiving court-ordered
substance abuse treatment, as well as mentoring programs
for children of incarcerated parents, offered in conjunction
with community churches. The Council first used BrainWise in 1997.
Girl Scouts. Valerie Silvers, MSW – Girl Scout Leader,
in teaching BrainWise to her children, Ms. Silvers used
her position as a Girl Scout leader to introduce the BrainWise Program to troops in her district and developed a Girl Scout
BrainWise Merit Badge.
Rotarians Teach Critical Thinking Skills
2005, the Rotary Club of Denver Mile High selected the
BrainWise curriculum as an intervention to improve the
13 percent high school graduation rate in the predominantly
Hispanic Villa Park neighborhood. The club is using
the evidence-based program to build community literacy
by teaching about the brain and showing children and
parents how thinking skills, called the 10 Wise Ways,
help solve problems. They learn to "be BrainWise"
and use Wizard Brain thinking over Lizard Brain impulses,
know the best sources to go to for help, recognize red
flags that warn them of problems, learn techniques to
manage their emotions, separate fact from opinion, ask
the right questions, identify choices and consider their
consequences, set goals, and communicate effectively.
from Denver Mile High, Rotary e-club One, the Rotary
Club of Denver LoDo, and other clubs are supporting,
facilitating and co-facilitating BrainWise sessions
with teachers in Villa Park elementary school and also
are offering an after-school program for families. The
10 Wise Ways give Rotarians, teachers, parents, and
children a language to describe the thinking process
and understand how they and others use thinking skills.
For example, children read stories, or have stories
read to them, and analyze the characters and situation
using the 10 Wise Ways. In family meetings, parents
identify and discuss problem situations and how they
use the Wise Ways to solve them. Rotarians were moved
by the candid responses of parents to the question,
"How did you use BrainWise this week?" One
mother responded: "Esta semana no pegué
mis hijos" - "This week, I did not hit my
time, parents requested help with their children's homework,
and asked if Rotarians could offer English conversation
classes so they could practice using English. They also
wanted to know when we would start new sessions so their
family and friends could learn BrainWise. Topics they
want to discuss include applying the 10 Wise Ways to
family issues, finances, stress, media influences on
children, and job placement.
is still too early to see long-term effects, but many
indicators spell success. The program is growing and
will be taught throughout the school, and neighboring
schools want to implement it, too. A nearby charter
high school for high risk youth will begin teaching
BrainWise as part of their curriculum, funded by a District
Simplified Grant. Rotarians will teach classes for parents
and integrate BrainWise thinking skills into the financial
lessons. Marilyn Welsh, Ph.D. and Paul Klaczynski, Ph.D.
professors of educational psychology at the University
of Northern Colorado, are evaluating the program's outcomes.
The result will be used to build a model that other
clubs can successfully replicate as Rotary shares.
2007, BrainWise received Rotary's North American Innovative
Literacy Project Recognition.
Office of the District Attorney. Michael Geesaman, Director,
Colorado Adolescent Mentoring Program (CAMP), Canon City,
school-based mentoring program, CAMP started using BrainWise to give more guidance to community volunteers serving
as mentors to youth who have had contact with police.
"BrainWise is amazing!" said Mr. Isely, the former director of the program. "It
is the backbone of CAMP and should be used by all mentoring
programs. It contains everything you need to know about
thinking skills and how to teach them. The young people
we work with will use these skills for the rest of their
County Health Department. Nancy Wilson, Director, Teen
Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, Montrose, Colorado:
with the highest pregnancy rate in the state, Ms. Wilson
and her staff started teaching BrainWise to girls identified
as high risk for pregnancy in 1995. She credited the
program with the reduction of the county's teen pregnancy
rate from 35.8 babies to 22.5 babies per every 1,000
women between the ages of 14 and 19.
in Other Countries
China. Xiaoliang Li, M.D., Director of Public Health,
Kunming Medical College, Yunnan, China. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
one of eight women selected as a fellow by the Institute
of International Education (IIE) to tour the U.S., Dr.
Li observed a BrainWise class at Mi Casa Resource Center
in Denver. She immediately saw the application of teaching
these thinking skills to young people in cities and
rural areas of southwestern China -- victims of sex
traffickers, sexually transmitted diseases, suicide,
and drug abuse. With funding from the Save the Children
Foundation-UK, Dr. Li translated the curriculum into
Chinese and successfully field-tested the program in
urban and rural areas. In 2001, IIE funded Dr. Gorman
Barry to join her in training 400 BrainWise instructors
in Kunming, Beijing, and Hong Kong.