Optimize Brain Fitness, Defy Labels and Spark Genius

Optimize Brain Fitness, Defy Labels and Spark Genius

United States
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

A brain fitness center where people with ADHD, and cognitive decline play combinations of "brainworksbetter" games to improve brain functioning.

About You
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Your idea
Year work began:

2004

Focus of activity

Service/process

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Plot your innovation within the mosaic of solutions
Which of these barriers is the primary focus of your work?

Dual Stigma

Which of the principles is the primary focus of your work?

Cognitive Fitness

If you believe some other barrier or principle should be included in the mosaic, please describe it and how it would affect the positioning of your initiative in the mosaic:
Innovation
What is your signature innovation in one sentence?

A brain fitness center where people with ADHD, and cognitive decline play combinations of "brainworksbetter" games to improve brain functioning.

Describe your innovation. What makes your idea unique and different than others doing work in the field?

Clients simultaneously improve cognitive fitness and ignite sparks of genius in a cool, gym-like environment. Personal Trainers utilize a personalized combination of "brainworksbetter" games to improve cognitive and executive function skills as well as to identify, ignite and nurture the many ways a person is smart. Clients "cross train" with various personalized gaming software to decrease stress and increase imagination. The program helps children with attention deficits, learning disabilities and processing problems and adults with mild traumatic brain injury and cognitive impairments. No other program focuses on a person's strengths and takes them "over the top." Sparks of Genius clients, currently from ages 6-83, learn to joyfully and confidently defy labels, tap into their inner resources, move beyond limitations decided by others and create their own destiny.

What barriers exist that are creating the problem your innovation is hoping to address/change?

The "old thinking" and negative stereotypes about games held by health professionals hinders adoption of "brainworksbetter" games which improve cognitive fitness. People with cognitive issues are usually given labels which define and limit them. Sparks of Genius intends to demonstrate to health professionals and the public that cognitive fitness gaming has a place in helping not only these individuals but also average people and those seeking peak performance.

Delivery Model: How do you implement your innovation and apply it to the challenge/problem you are addressing.

Sparks of Genius is currently a pilot project consisting of a Sparks of Genius Center in Boca Raton, Florida which features cognitive fitness games in a gym-like environment under the guidance of an expert personal trainer. Our trainers travel to New York and London. There is a Sparks of Genius Web site (www.sparksofgenius.com) which offers a "free screener" for identifying attention challenges, brain dysfunction and memory problems in children and adults. There is a blog, www.sparkmygenius.com, which provides information, free cognitive fitness games, and offers opportunities for dialog. Our web- based services are currently available to people all over the world. We are a strategic partner with the Special Needs Arts Center in Broward County Florida who plans to create a satellite Sparks of Genius Center in 2008.

We give gaming demonstrations and seminars at universities and community-wide organizations like Rotary International in Florida and New York.

How do you plan to scale your innovation?

We will open centers throughout the state, the country and worldwide. We will develop a Sparks of Genius Community that joins kindred spirits in game development, neuroscience, traditional and integrative medicine, psychology, research, and education who are passionately dedicated to improving, expanding and researching the efficacy of cognitive fitness software to improve brain health. We will partner with one or more of the companies currently delivering cognitive fitness games over the internet. We will expand and improve the sparksofgenius.com website and sparkmygenius.com blog. We will establish a 501(c)3 non-profit, The Thinking Pays Foundation, to serve many of those who cannot afford our services. We will set up a Research and Development Division to develop and disseminate new products and services which improve cognitive fitness.

Impact
Provide one sentence describing your impact.

Sparks of Genius uses combinations of "brainworksbetter" games to improve cognitive and executive function skills and spark genius.

What impact has your innovation had to date? Exactly who are the beneficiaries of your innovation?

Children with labels like ADHD, LD and Cognitive Disorder have transformed from underachieving students to healthy, happy, higher achieving students. For example, a 7 year old boy played "brainworkbetter" games 2-3 hours a week at home and 3 hours a month at Sparks of Genius. By third grade he was a top student. Invited to be one of six students to participate in a state-wide robotics competition, his team won the prize and gave the only trophy to this student. See podcast at http://www.sparksofgenius.com/podcast.html.

Adults with labels like Mild Cognitive Disorder and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury have improved cognitive fitness playing games. A 60 year old diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and played cognitive fitness games for a over a year and increased happiness, work performance and creativity. Another adult overcame many of the symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury by playing cognitive fitness games for 2 years.

How many people have you served directly?

We have served over 100 clients since 2004 ranging in age from six to eighty-three.

How many people have you served indirectly?

It is difficult for us to evaluate and estimate the number of people indirectly served. We estimate that over 5,000 people have benefited from our services, primarily through our website and blog site, a monthly e-newsletter, feature articles in newspapers and magazines, a podcast and presentations to community groups.

The podcast is available at http://www.sparksofgenius.com/podcast.html.

Please list any other measures reflective of the impact of your innovation

We measure client success by transfer of training and permanence of training. We use attention tests, sparks of genius metrics, and the data from gaming software to measure progress. We obtain reports from schools, family members, allied educational and health professionals to amass data about change.

What are the main barriers to creating your impact?

To continue growth and expansion, the company requires sufficient capital and additional business expertise. We have been self-funded since 2004 and want to 1) automate our Free 39-Point Learning Assessment, 2) develop a marketing program, and 3) hire additional business expertise to facilitate smoother business operations, systems and expansions.

Sustainability
How is your initiative financed?

We are self funded to date and have been financially profitable since inception. Revenue is generated from client fees. We funded ourselves with an investment from the founder and CEO. We are actively looking for angel and private investors as well as a strategic partner.

Provide information on your finances and organization: annual budget, annual revenue, number of staff:

We are a corporation with one full time and one part time staff member and two consultants. We also have a university intern for two years who is working on a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology. There is an Advisory Committee of three experienced, business people interested in brain health and dedicated to the growth of the company.

What is the potential demand for your innovation?

Since we work with memory decline and there are 5,000,000 Americans with Alzheimer's Disease, demand for our services will only grow as the population ages. Millions of adults with mild traumatic brain injury, cognitive decline from strokes, and ADHD are struggling in the workplace or are unemployed and can benefit from computerized cognitive training games and sparking genius. It's the same story for millions of children with ADHD, LD and processing disorders. Now add in the rest of the world.

What are the main barriers to financial sustainability?

We need greater exposure to the local South Florida population who will become members so we can invest more in business operations and systems to begin the expansion of Sparks of Genius Brain Fitness Centers.

The Story
What is the origin of this innovation? Tell us your story.

The founder of Sparks of Genius, Dr. Rohn Kessler, has been in the wellness field since 1970. He worked with the noted pediatrician Dr. William Crook to design and implement an innovative pediatric program for children with attention deficits and learning disabilities. In the eighties Dr. Kessler pioneered Equanimity, a holistic de-stressing center in Eugene, Oregon. In 1993 he designed the prototype for brain-based software applications to improve brain fitness and optimize learning potential. Since then he has focused all his efforts in the area of brain fitness, computers and learning achievements. In 1995 he was the Research Coordinator at the University of Oregon for Project COMPASS, a U.S. Dept. of Education initiative to improve science education in the U.S. He saw how visual thinking and mapping software helped non-traditional learners succeed. In 1997 working at 7 local schools, he saw alternately-abled students, mostly labeled ADHD or LD, descending into an abyss of depression, anger and poor grades. When he learned about brain-based cognitive solutions. he left the school system and created the first Sparks of Genius Center, an "electronic playground" for cognitive remediation and enhancement. Sparks of Genius is unique in that we are a strengths based program personalizing a variety of cognitive fitness software AND simultaneously sparking genius.

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers marketing material

Dr. Rohn Kessler has been a visionary in education and psychology since 1969. He has designed and implemented successful wellness programs in pediatrics, mental health, prisons, and substance abuse facilities. Dr. Kessler has held positions at the University of Oregon and at the Graduate School at Florida Atlantic University. In 2004 he created Thinking Pays, Inc. and started the first Sparks of Genius Center. Dr. Kessler has an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Florida Atlantic University.

How did you hear about this contest and what is your main incentive to participate? (this is confidential)

We were invited to participate by Robert Benedict, who emailed us on Mon 9/17/2007 11:37 AM after going to the sparkmygenius blog. When we went to the Changemakers website, we got very excited. It can be a little lonely at the cutting edge, and it was wonderful to be connected with kindred spirits. We jumped at the chance to be part of your innovative online community. We are very proud of what we do at Sparks of Genius. It is very gratifying to be able to use games to empower people. We look forward to our future interactions with other contestants, as well as with the staff at Changemakers and are very grateful for the opportunity to submit this application.