On January 22, 2009 members of the Junior League of Denver’s Community Assistance Fund made a site visit to a bilingual BrainWise kindergarten class and watched Master BrainWise instructor, Wendy Cameron, and BrainWise assistant, Sarah Donahue, teach the BrainWise curriculum. BrainWise applied for funding from the Junior League to translate teaching materials to Spanish, and the visitors were able to see the class taught in both English and Spanish as the primary teacher, Mrs. Buchanan, translated. Wendy and Sarah wore sweaters emblazed with stars to represent the Constellation of Support (Wise Way #2), part of the lesson being taught that day. Wendy guided the class through the basic principles of BrainWise: Everyone has problems; when we encounter problems we need to, “Stop and Think,” then we need to know whether our thinking is Wizard brain (Prefrontal cortex: where our higher-order thinking skills are processed) or Lizard brain (the base of the brain that houses our emotions and flight or fight reflex). She applied these points to a serious problem in the community: Many students and parents were not wearing their seatbelts. She asked the children whether they were using their Wizard or Lizard brain when they wore their seatbelts. They replied enthusiastically and unanimously: “WIZARD BRAIN!”
Following the class, the Junior League representatives, Rotarians Patricia Fiske and Susan Henderson, BrainWise supporter Mary Schefler (seeking to galvanize the program in another school district), and BrainWise Founder Dr. Patricia Gorman Barry met with several bilingual and monolingual mothers from the community to talk about how they used BrainWise at home and how helpful it would be to have BrainWise materials in Spanish. The mothers shared their struggles in raising and taking care of children. Their tales brought to life child rearing where physical discipline, yelling, and shame exist as common practice, and how using BrainWise helped them help improve not only their understanding of decision making, but also how to enhance their parenting skills.
The adults’ ability to stop and think, realize their problems, and use the Wise Ways aided in the discovery of alternate and more positive ways to resolve their problems; BrainWise was a primary catalyst in the women’s new take on child care. The improvements they mentioned included not hitting their child anymore, and stories of how they now communicate their needs and desires more calmly by controlling their emotions. One woman smiled as she talked about her realization that there is a way out of the cycle in which she, too, was raised.
Please share your own “BE BRAINWISE” stories with us. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org so they may be shared with others!