BrainWise at Hull Services Creating Happiness & Success During Difficult Times
Posted On: November 12, 2020
POWERFUL, LIFE CHANGING, and INSPIRATIONAL are words that Hull Services’ instructors use to describe BrainWise. Hull Services offers programs and services in Calgary, Alberta, Canada designed to provide effective behavioral and mental health treatment and support for at-risk children, youth, and their families.
BrainWise has been taught and implemented at the Cedarbrae Teaching Home and Interdependent Living Services programs for the past four years and has helped many young people learn skills to stop and think.
It all started when Dr. Gary Brayton, a clinical social worker and BrainWise trainer, gave a copy of How To Be BrainWise to Melissa Roels, a program coordinator at Hull Services. Melissa immediately saw how BrainWise fit the wide-ranging needs of Hull’s population and shared the program with other staff members, including Assistant Program Director Jocelyn McQuay.
They ordered curricula and immediately started implementing the lessons. “It has made a big difference from the systems method we were using before. The kids love it and so do we. It fits all skill sets and is easy for staff to assimilate and use!”
The young people and families Hull supports often participate in services for a number of years, including campus-based and community placements. The instructors say BrainWise offers them opportunities to creatively address the different needs of the complex population they serve. The curriculum is a starting point for the lessons and innovative teaching tools and activities that Melissa and Jocelyn designed (see pictures below). They brainstorm activities and also use the newsletter, including Jell-O brains, BrainWise Bingo, and other games.
Because Hull’s relationships with youth are long-term, they offer ongoing and progressive sessions. This includes psychoeducational group sessions called BrainWise, followed by advanced reinforcement sessions called BrainWise 2.0. Youth who take part in advanced sessions can become BrainWise Peer Leaders, a role the youth hold with pride.
This design makes it easy to be flexible, allows youth who progress to move forward and allows youth who need more support to stay longer in a session. Additionally, youth are able to repeat sessions without stigma. BrainWise sessions are so popular that even youth who have progressed to higher levels ask to repeat earlier sessions.
This article started with three words that Melissa and Jocelyn used to describe BrainWise. It closes with why they chose them.
POWERFUL. “BrainWise is powerful because it is a foundation that applies to all of our programs and has endless applications. It helps our widely diverse population by giving them skills that will help them be successful for life. It also helps families and our staff. The skills stick, they are used and not forgotten.”
LIFE CHANGING. “BrainWise skills help our kids succeed! It helps them move from resisting help to accepting help and using a Constellation of Support. They learn to recognize that they have control over their choices and understand the importance of using resources. They learn to understand not only their behaviors, but also the behaviors of others.”
INSPIRATIONAL. “We have found a program that works, and we are inspired! The kids know it and respond to our eusiasm for the material. We are motivated to be creative and want to apply it in new ways to teach them. We see a big difference in the youth — this increases our enthusiasm and excitement! We want to make more people aware of the program’s value.”
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