Rotarians Are BrainWise!
"The Rotary International Literacy Resource Group has identified character literacy as a high priority area for club literacy projects. BrainWise is an outstanding program which clubs should consider adopting."
– Dr. Richard Hatwick, General Coordinator Rotary International Literacy Resource
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 critical thinking skills (the 10 Wise Ways) help solve
problems and increase decision making skills. 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 10 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 children."
Dan Himelspach, former President, Rotary Club of Denver Mile High, stated: "Service above self is easy when you teach or support BrainWise. You are giving individuals decision making skills that help them make good choices for life."
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.
The program is growing and will
be taught throughout the school, and nearby schools
also want to implement it. A charter high school
for high risk youth will begin teaching BrainWise as part
of its curricula, funded by a District Simplified Grant.
Rotarians will teach classes for parents and integrate
BrainWise critical 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.
BrainWise and its "10 Wise Ways" can also be used to prevent risk behaviors and sustain responsible decision making. Rotarians can teach or support others to apply these skills to:
- Literacy -- Reading and reading comprehension, financial literacy, citizenship literacy, character literacy, parenting literacy, workplace literacy;
- Health Literacy -- Health promotion, eg. getting immunizations, practicing safe sex, providing disaster counseling, and preventing substance abuse, violence, sex-trafficking, and suicide;
- Hunger Literacy -- Establishing sustainable food sources, building support networks, and teaching individuals to use effective communication skills;
- Water Literacy -- Understanding the consequences now, later, and affecting others regarding water sources and use.
2007, BrainWise received Rotary's North American Innovative
Literacy Project Recognition, as well as a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Capacity Building Grant.
"I urge Rotary Clubs to adopt BrainWise as a signature program to help individuals of all ages and cultures make wise choices."
– Patricia Fiske, Co-Chair Rotary D5450, Literacy and Education Task Force