April 2011

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BrainWise founder and director Dr. Patricia Gorman Barry presented the keynote address at a conference hosted by the Alaska Center for Resource Families and the Alaska Department of Public Health Office of Children’s Services. The conference, attended by 270 foster families, was held April 5-7 in Anchorage, Alaska.

In her remarks, Dr. Barry related the success of BrainWise in helping young people improve thinking and decision making skills. Dr. Barry offered advice to foster families on how to utilize BrainWise as a resource for raising children of all ages who have been relinquished by court order, especially those with disabilities such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Attention Deficit Disorder.

Following her keynote speech, Dr. Barry conducted two well-attended workshops on BrainWise thinking skills. During the first workshop, Dr. Barry provided an introduction to the BrainWise Program and covered Wise Ways 1-8. A second workshop focused on Wise Ways 9-10, and utilized role-play for reinforcement of the skills. A highlight of the second workshop was a conference call from nursing supervisor Rebecca Persing and visiting nurse Armando Reyes of Jefferson County, Colorado, who have been instrumental in incorporating BrainWise skills into home visits with low income women and their families.

BrainWise has been taught in Alaska since 1998 according to Matt Sena, a master BrainWise instructor and Fatherhood Program manager for Chugachmiut Inc. in Anchorage. Sena has trained and supported Alaska Native leaders to use the 10 Wise Ways to help youth and families living in rural tribal village learn sound decision making skills.

In 2006, Sena invited Dr. Barry to conduct a BrainWise workshop in Anchorage with the Alaska Native group, the Chugachmiut, which trained 18 community members to become BrainWise instructors. Sena reports that BrainWise has been taught in every community that he and his team members work with in the peninsula southwest of Anchorage. Currently, Sena is writing a doctoral dissertation on using Avatars to help teach and reinforce BrainWise thinking skills.