Ceres is a small town, servicing the surrounding agricultural community, 155 km from Cape Town in South Arica. Ceres Secondary School is a government school with some 970 students, most of whom are from a poor, disadvantaged community with few opportunities available to them. The Headmaster Mr. Ballie is a progressive thinker who welcomed BrainGym® and Kinesiology in anticipation of better results for the school and increased possibilities for the students. Mr. Ballie’s primary objective was to improve the pass rate for the current and subsequent years.
I am a Licensed BrainGym® Consultant and began working at high schools the last seven weeks of the 2008 academic year. The last quarter is usually spent reviewing the previous year’s work. It was essential that the students be able to absorb and retain whatever they were studying as they prepared for their final exams. I focused only on the 147 Grade 12’s (final year) and facilitated one-on-one sessions with 42 students.
At the same time, I introduced the PACE process and a few more movements to the whole school. Every class brought PACE into the 15-minute registration at the beginning of each day. The BrainGym® activities selected were: Sipping Water, Brain Buttons, Lazy 8’s, The Thinking Cap, The Calf Pump, and the Cross Crawl. Positive Points and Think of an X were used in conjunction with Hook-ups. These movements were chosen because they represent the three dimensions: laterality, centering and focus. Initially there was some resistance to trying something new but Mr. Ballie ensured that all the classes participated.
One quarter seems hardly enought time to show success. That said, with BrainGym® being the only change the school made that year, the pass rate increased from 61% in 2007 to 74.8% in 2008. Previously only five students qualified for university entrance; in 2008 eleven made it. BrainGym® had arrived in Ceres!
2008 gave me one term in which to introduce the BrainGym® programme to a community through one school. Since then I have been able to broaden the base of the one-to-ones with the students from other years allowing for long-term results. From these individual sessions I identified and addressed problem areas such as comprehension, eye tracking, attention, immune challenges, specific academic skills and/or needs. Goal setting, pre-activities, noticing and BrainGym® movements, including Dennison Laterality Repatterning were used. Some students benefited from a single session while others had several. Many of the students were directionless so goal setting was introduced. Goals could be short term (to get them through each day) or long term; however they had to belong to the students, be measurable and attainable.
We are in the third year and despite the initial wariness and skepticism, BrainGym® has been embraced by the teachers and pupils at the school The school maintained the increased pass rate in 2009 and 2010 remaining 15% above the national average. Students participating in the BrainGym® sessions saw a significant improvement in their grades. I monitor the success of the BrainGym® programme monthly through the individual marks of each student and the average of each grade throughout the school. This is measurable. Taking into account the socio economic situation together with the limited environment for studying opportunities these results are excepional. It takes the support of the entire school and the teachers’ dedicated hard work. Thanks to Mr. Ballie’s belief and support of the BrainGym® programme. The local newspaper has also been supportive by publishing monthly articles, which spread the word.
We look forward to expanding to more schools. This work is necessary for the benefit of youth empowerment and advancement. We extend an open invitation to the experts to learn.
Terry Webb is a Licensed BrainGym® Instructor/Consultant and has worked at Ceres Secondary School in Ceres, South Africa for three years. Terry became a Consultant in 2007 and also runs his own practice in Ceres. Terry has been doing ground breaking work in taking BrainGym® into the disadvantaged schools.