Ms Cheryl Chia – Founder and Research Director
As a founding member of the company, my personal journey with the brain started after my undergraduate studies in University of Queensland (UQ), Australia. Equipped with my Bachelor degree in Physiotherapy, I returned to work in KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Singapore, which has awarded me the scholarship for my undergraduate studies. As a young graduate in the hospital, I was tasked with caring for the developmental outcomes of premature infants in the neonatal ICU, whose often delicate brains were vulnerable to neurological insults. Those were rewarding years I learnt tremendously about early brain development and the importance of early intervention.
My initial focus on brain development in infants shifted to that of schooling children when I returned to UQ in Australia to pursue my Master’s degree in Pediatric Physiotherapy. University of Queensland has an interesting research clinic, which is dedicated to studying the relationship between movement and learning in physiotherapy. A school-based research conducted by this clinic in the 1980s had seen physiotherapy improve academic results in students, which I has found fascinating. I spend much of my postgraduate time there, learning how to assess and treat children with movement and learning challenges.
After my return to Singapore, together with some fellow colleges in the Occupational Therapy and Speech-Language Therapy fields, TherapyWorks was born. Our vision was, and continues to be, to provide scientific and evidence based programmes to improve the learning and lives of children. From the onset of the company, we have emphasized the importance of measuring results to evaluate the effectiveness of our results and this has also helped us to improve our programme delivery over the years. We are now able to share some of our experiences and results due to our consistent efforts in collection of data and documentation over the last 18 years.
Today, BrainFit® uses a combination of programmes from the USA and Australia, as well as our own proprietary programmes to accelerate learning in students through brain fitness training. We have seen the power of neuroplasticity as we witness improvement in our students’ lives after attending our brain fitness programmes. Some of the improvements we have seen have come rapidly (within 6-8 weeks) and have been life-changing. Non-readers have become lovers of books, self-driven and conscientious, self-esteem and motivation for learning have been boosted and very importantly parents, examination results have dramatically improved.
When we first started BrainFit® , we never dreamed of opening multiple centres. We had just one focus and that was to implement programmes that work, so that we can impact the lives we were working with. That to us was, and is always, out most satisfying reward! However, as parents started seeing the positive results in their children under our care, we were frequently asked to make our programmes available outside of Singapore. As a result these requests, we systematised our brain fitness training approaches and methodologies. We needed to ensure that our programmes are robust enough to be implemented in a foreign country without any compromise in our results.
When we grew out of Singapore, we continue to monitor and track our students’ results closely, ensuring that we maintain our ability to impact these young lives. Seeing the gains in all our students has been immensely rewarding. Twelve years on, we are now in 10 centres throughout Southeast Asia. Our flagship centre is in Hiap Hoe Building @ Zhongshan Park, Singapore with other centres located in Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Turkey.
We are consistently humbles and awed by both the commonalities and yet uniqueness of each human brain we train. While differences in nationality, race, language, ability and temperament exist in all of us, we are fascinated by what unites improves and the resilience of our spirits to constantly strive for the best for ourselves and those we love.
Sculptor of Our Own Brain
Santiago Ramón y Cajal, neuroscientist and Noble Laureate from the nineteenth century, has so eloquently said, “Every man can, if he so desires, become the sculptor of his own brain”. While this was said long before our modern times of sophisticated brain scans and fMRI technology (functional magnetic resonance imaging, an advance brain imaging technique that enables movie-like visual feedback on what areas of the brain are getting activated), Santiago has accurately described the powerful potential of neuroplasticity long before our time. Indeed, we can sculpt our children’s brains and help them become more effective and enthusiastic learners through enhancing their brain fitness.
The question is no longer, “Can it really be done?” but rather “How do we deliver brain fitness training to achieve the best results?” The latter question continues to be the research subject of many neuroscientists worldwide. We will share with you here the latest methodologies recommended by neuroscientists and our personal experiences.