BrainWise is founded by Dr. Patricia Gorman Barry Ph.D. as she and several instructors began to teach the BrainWise curriculum to at-risk youth in Denver middle and high schools. Dr. Barry’s basic approach was based on 20 years of working with at-risk youth and her experience in domestic violence prevention, public health, and education. With a research background that included more than 30 in-depth studies of her own, Dr. Barry based the program on the theory that cognitive models can help individuals restructure distorted thinking processes.
Working in conjunction with the Piton Foundation, the program was adapted for use by adults and was successfully used in a number of locations and situations, including private companies, welfare-to-work agencies, low-income housing projects and in drug and alcohol treatment programs.
BrainWise to China. In 1997, a delegation of visiting Chinese professors from Kunming Medical College observed BrainWise being taught at Denver's Mi Casa Resource Center for Women and requested a copy of the curriculum and student workbook. Dr. Xiaoliang Li, a professor of public health at Kunming Medical Hospital in China, sought permission to translate the BrainWise materials into Chinese to teach the program to teenagers. "There is a big need to teach students about people's life, and we believe the BrainWise curriculum can do this," Dr. Li said via e-mail.
BrainWise Video Captures Program Outcomes. Interviews with principals, teachers, parents and BrainWise kindergarten, middle school and high school students reflect the positive outcomes of BrainWise. Randy Holman of RH Productions donated the video.
Clarus Public Relations and HenryGill Advertising select BrainWise as a Pro Bono Client. Two premier Denver agencies contributed staff and resources to help expand the program's reach throughout Colorado and the nation. See the web site they helped create at http://brainwise-plc.org.
BrainWise Program expands in China. Dr. Barry traveled to China to meet with Dr. Xiaoliang Li, who had completed her translation of the BrainWise materials.The program was designed by Dr. Li to reach at risk youth, including illiterate rural girls who are targets of sex traffickers.During the trip Dr. Barry met with numerous individuals in both Beijing and Kunming, as well as presenting several lectures and seminars on the BrainWise program.class="style6"Dr. Barry trained over 400 government officials in China in the BrainWise Program and co-taught a student seminar in Kunming. Plans were laid to publish and distribute the curriculum in China through a grant from the Save the Children Foundation.
BrainWise Infused into the Sisters Program. The Mile High Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse infuses the BrainWise 10 Wise Ways approach into its youth programs. In 2001, Flavia Lewis, director of Mile High, had counselors who work with female inmates charged with drug and alcohol offenses trained to teach the BrainWise program. The 10 Wise Ways system has been infused into the Council's Sisters program, a nationally approved treatment program for female inmates.
BrainWise Course Materials Available in Spanish. The BrainWise workbook, worksheets, classroom visuals and 14 laminated 10 Wise Ways posters have been translated to Spanish.
BrainWise Teaching Kits. In focus groups, parents suggested giving them material that was short, easy to read and could be used interactively with children. In response, a parent kit containing teaching aids and the BrainWise manual was created for parents. By request, similar kits are being created for mentors and professionals who work one-on-one with children, K-12 teachers and the Human Resource administrators.
BrainWise credited for drop in teen pregnancy rate in Montrose, CO. Montrose County's birth rate has fallen from 35.8 babies for every 1,000 women between the ages of 14 and 19 to 22.5 babies per every 1,000 teens even though the number of people moving to Montrose County has increased. "Teaching the BrainWise curriculum was the county’s primary prevention application," said Britt Parks, program specialist for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative. "A big aspect of the program teaches them to stop and think. When they do something, they know that they are not the only ones facing the consequences."
OMNI Research Evaluating BrainWise Program. A team from OMNI Research, a private research firm, is evaluating the effectiveness of the BrainWise curriculum using a pre/post experimental and control group research design with a population of seventh graders at ethnically diverse low income schools. Results from the study reinforce the previous findings and experience of the BrainWise program.
Students who completed BrainWise have significantly lower disciplinary referrals than students who don't take BrainWise. United Way conducted an evaluation of violence intervention methods used in an inner city Denver school and the BrainWise program was singled out as contributing to a decrease in office referrals.
BrainWise used as a Pilot Program at Casa Hogar "Mama Paulita" in Mexico. The Mama Paulita Home for Children is an orphanage of 40 children from ages 4 to 16. The director of the home learned about the BrainWise program on a trip to Denver and requested to use the program at their school. The 10 Wise Ways approach is being infused into the school curriculum and will be reinforced by staff members at the orphanage.
BrainWise in Alaska. BrainWise partnered with the Chugachmiut in 2004. The Chugachmiut is a regional Native non-profit tribal consortium that provides health and community social service related programs for families of the Chugach region.
Adolescent Brain Conference. BrainWise was one of 20 programs selected to be presented in June of 2005 at the Adolescent Brain Conference at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Conference participants were selected because their work applied research findings that won Dr. Eric Kandel the 2000 Nobel Prize in Medicine. Dr. Barry presented her research on a BrainWise pilot study at five different school sites.
BrainWise and Rotary. In 2005 the Rotary Club of Denver Mile High partnered with BrainWise to improve the 13% high school graduation rate of Denver’s Villa Park neighborhood. The Project started out solely with second grade classes but schools have started using BrainWise from kindergarten through 8th grade. Teachers and volunteers help children integrate the 10 Wise Ways into things such as reading, math, learning English, computers, and health. Many of the parents of the children are also taught the 10 Wise Ways, in hopes that a “double dose” of thinking skills will improve children’s academic achievement, and raise high school graduation rates.
Dr. Barry's paper--presented at the 2005 Adolescent Brain Conference and co-authored by Dr. Marilyn Welsh--was published in Adolescent Psychopathology and the Developing Brain: Integrating Brain and Prevention Science a book by Oxford University Press.
MoneySmart. In the summer of 2007 BrainWise was integrated into an FDIC curriculum in Spanish and English, called "MoneySmart". It was taught as a reinforcement class to the BrainWise family course that was taught the previous year in the Villa Park neighborhood. MoneySmart teaches parents money and banking skills that help them with their financial problems. MoneySmart was also taught to children in after-school programs at Eagleton Elementary School.
Awards and Honors:
Service to Science Award This award is supported by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Substance Abuse Preventions (CSAP) “Service to Science Initiative.” The award is for Pilot Evaluating Capacity-Building for Evidence-Based Interventions. The award was given through a nationwide competitive process. BrainWise was identified as an evidence-based intervention worthy of funds for additional research that would help evaluate its evidence, so it can be listed on the national Registry of Effective Programs and Practices.
CCF Grant for Capacity Building The BrainWise program is awarded a $50,000 Capacity Building Grant by the Department of Health and Human Services to help expand its base and enable it to reach more programs and schools.
BrainWise recognized by Rotary International. Dr. Barry received a 2006-2007 North American Innovative Literacy Project Recognition for changing "the Rotary world's vision regarding the scope of school partnership projects and the standards used to measure success".