Contact Us
Giving Back
P.O. Box 791339
Paia, HI 96779
Phone: 808-573-3109
kp@givingbackmentoring.org

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Program Site Photos








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SENIOR-CITIZEN VOLUNTEER MENTOR TESTIMONIALS:


SENIOR-CITIZEN VOLUNTEER MENTOR TESTIMONIALS:

I thank you very much for the experience of being a Brain Gym mentor at Hale Mahaolu. I’ve really enjoyed it and have
been amazed at how quickly the hour passes. Yae and I have gotten along very well together, and I have noticed more flexibility in her movement despite her bad back. She looks forward to the exercises.
I was very impressed with the wealth of experience and skills of the other mentors.
These are people dedicated to helping others, and it’s inspiring to be with them.The training was well-planned and you were very open to questions and often asked for feedback about how we responded to the exercises. The manual is a great help. I look forward to mentoring with you at Hale Makua.—Alma, mentor

I used to suffer from excruciating and debilitating leg cramps which would wake me from a sound sleep nearly every night. I had to massage my legs until I was able to get up and walk the cramp out before I could get back to sleep. I’ve been involved in the
Giving Back program since January of this year, and am extremely grateful to be able to say I can’t remember the last time I was so rudely awakened! Thank you Brain Gym! I enjoy all the activities we have learned and I have noticed many subtle benefits from them. However, the Calf Pump has made a dramatic difference in my ability to sleep soundly through the night without pain. Gerri Hestand, mentor

When I started the Brain Gym program, I had a lot of tension and soreness in my neck and shoulder area. Before the program ended, the tension and most of the soreness was gone. The exercises made me very aware of how my body was reacting to certain situations, and more alert. I was able to relax when I felt stressed. With some of the exercises I felt more centered. I was made aware I was standing straighter after doing others. I am so glad I was able to participate in Brain Gym.—Ginny, mentor

All morning I was just sitting around, watching TV, not moving. I was sleepy, tired, my head was dead, brain fog. When I arrived at the site, I felt stiff, awkward, uncoordinated. As soon as I did The Hookups, it was hard to balance. Shortly after, I was a different person. I was awake, alive, revitalized, not stiff. My body and brain came alive. I also look forward to how happy the eldlers are to see us mentors. I feel connected to my neighborhood.--------- John “Moso” Caitlin, senior citizen mentor.

After the exercises, my walking was light and balanced, especially on the left hip and back side. The Owl improved my neck on the right side.” –Maha, mentor, 2006

After BG, walking is more “conscious.” Aware of footing and posture.—Eloise, mentor, 2005

I am more flexible. Today I reached my ankles. It feels good.—Yaemi, mentor,2006

For me personally, it has been terrific. I can definitely see a difference in my focus, not only mentally but physically as well. The eye exercises have helped my peripheral vision, the calf exercises have eliminated my nightly leg cramps and my overally mental alertness has improved. All and all, I am delighted to be involved in the program and look forward to the benefits for myself and everyone we all work with in the future. Thank you, Susan, mentor

June 4th's vision activiy at Hale Makua was eye-opening, or more accurately, sight-opening. Working with Flash was fun and challenging. He kept trying, but didn't seem to be able to see "double." One eye always dom inated, he always saw only one image, even as we did the beads-on-string excercise. Yet when he shut either eye, his vision was fine in the other. It set me pondering about what was going on, and how I myself was "seeing," and how I could communicate what he was missing. At the end of the session, we both noticed a marked improvement seeing text on the 'test' card, compared to when we looked at it when we first came in. Thank you, Karen, for sharing all your knowledge and experience. Eloise, mentor

He kept trying, but didn't seem to be able to see "double." One eye always dominated, he always saw only one image, even as we did the beads-on-string excercise. Yet when he shut either eye, his vision was fine in the other. It set me pondering about what was going on, and how I myself was "seeing," and how I could communicate what he was missing. At the end of the session, we both noticed a marked improvement seeing text on the 'test' card, compared to when we looked at it when we first came in. Eloise, mentor

On my first experience to practice Brain Gym with elders, I spent the hour session with Christine. When I first saw her, she was seated in her wheelchair at a table with “Allure” magazine in front of her. She was more interested in looking around her surroundings and the people from our training group. I was attracted to the smile on her face-- an invitation to me to make a connection. I asked her permission to sit with her and do exercises together with her, and she accepted with a nod and smile. She was easy to understand and seemed to comprehend instructions well, though she definitely benefited from one-on-one assistance from me. It seemed that she had more limited mobility and weakness of her legs and feet than in her upper body. She was enthusiastic to try all the new Brain Gym exercises, accompanying her actions with nods and smiles. She allowed me to physically lead her through the activities. She reacted positively to my touch while I guided her body to get the intended benefits of stretching, relaxing, stimulating, and balancing. She remained focused on my instructions to her and participated the entire session. Christine responded in an extraordinary way when we practiced The Owl. After we practiced being Owls, her eyes widened with surprise to feel pain relieved in her right shoulder and neck! She said that it felt “like bones fell into place”!!! Having this experience seemed to give her incentive to try everything that was presented in Brain Gym. I reminded her that she could practice Brain Gym like The Owl to relieve pain in shoulder/neck on her own, now that she felt how it worked for her. I invited Christine to return to future Brain Gym sessions. She expressed desire to return, and now she has real motivation to do that! I would like to cultivate a relationship with this cheerful, friendly woman in the future. I’m confident that she would benefit from my interest in her. She has shown me that Brain Gym can have dramatic effects in an elderly person confined to a wheelchair with limited mobility. I very much look forward to working with Christine and others at Hale Makua! Loretta, mentor

Participating in the 9 week program at Roselani Place got me back to doing more of the exercises again. I could feel how I especially needed the lengthening exercises for my stiffness and the hook-ups and positive points when i start to become agitated. Rose, mentor

Florence seemed more relaxed today than last week, and she "got into"
what we were doing with more gusto today. We had a good time.
She has trouble getting to her feet, though, but she tries.
As for me, when we walked at the beginning of the session, I was having
a balance problem. I could feel it in my ankles as I used them to stay
upright. When we walked again at the session's end, none of that was
present.” Lynne, mentor

My report on Tuesday is very short. Thelma and Florence both said that
they seem to have improvement in balance. I reminded them that they could
do these exercises at home whenever they thought about it, and the more
often they do them the more improvement they would feel. They both
really like what we're doing. Lynne, mentor

“It’s been a joy working with Mary. Her sense of humor is delightful. I’ve had some good laughs. I think Mary enjoyed the mental stimulation of seeing other people, as she feels she doesn’t have anyone here to converse with. She improved her hand-eye coordination, which was super for a 92 year old.” Debbie, mentor

After a couple of 12 hour shifts due to delayed flights, I succumbed to
a sore throat and head cold that kept me from volunteer work at the
Roselani Home Tuesday before last. I was congested and clumsy walking
about. I decided to do some brain coordinating, and practiced
"elephant" for a few minutes. It had a marked effect; I lost the
feeling of "unsteadiness on the feet." I went on to work a full shift
that same afternoon/evening. I hadn't given it a second thought, until
you, Karen, asked for any input during our group session this past
Tuesday. As a result, I'll be more observant of Brain Gym working in
my life from now on. Eloise, mentor

Thank you for inspiring me to GIVE BACK and to provide me this way to give back
I really like to be in contact with seniors ; it's something which has been missing in my life .To relate with elders. To discover how receptive they are when they feel safe .
We bring some warmth to their hearts. And it makes me realize that at their age I would be more prepared with good tools for my own well being. I like also the flexibility and the simplicity that you have with the group of mentors. Rose, mentor

Did some balance brain gym exercises with Stella, and even though these were a little difficult for her, she was very receptive to trying. I do need to get her to slow down a little. Did some energy brain gym exercises and I noticed an immediate improvement in her attitude. I feel that Stella truly benefited from this session. We stood with eyes closed again and she did not sway. She arrived nervous and unsure, she left laughing and relaxed. I feel the energy exercises help her the most. Her favorite exercise was the calf pump. Cathy, mentor

We did some stretching brain gym and worked on balance, Stella wanted to do everything fast, so we worked on slowing down a bit, she seemed to respond to this, but did speed up again when not reminded, when going slow she did improve on her balance. Cathy, mentor

By the end of the hour Stella was laughing and teaching me some Japanese words. She was very excited to return the following week, which I felt was an improvement in her mental outlook. I feel that brain gym is bringing Stella out a her shyness. Cathy, mentor

I feel so good during all the day after our meeting and the BRAIN
GYM ACTIVITIES! If our group at ROSALANI has the same feeling , it's great!!!
They are so receptive! I like to work with a small group also. Make them happy, give them love; it positively affects the brain and the body. I encourage them to laugh and to be happy. Life is so short !!! ah! ah! ah! I am grateful and it makes me feel good to give back a little bit. Rose, mentor
I worked 1:1 with Loraine (67 y/o female ). After taking her history, she reported that she was the "youngest person at Roselani." She also reported that she was suffering from Alzheimers Disease. She seemed relaxed during our discussion however, at one point she said that the room appeared to "be spinning around" and she felt dizzy. She said that such a thing happens to her especially when she "turns her head in a certain direction.
I asked Karen Peterson to come over and we did Positive Points and Hook-Up Brain Gym exercises with Loraine. After about 10 minutes, she reported that she began to feel better. This was a good example of how Brain Gym can assist seniors with balance problems. There was no further incident of extreme dizziness with Loraine during the rest of the session which ended shortly thereafter. Robert, mentor
I first started working with Karen in 2001.
I am a former teacher and helped Karen work with children with learning
disabilities, using Brain Gym. In 2003, I became a caregiver for her
father in law who was in his 80's, very fragile and very frustrated since
his health was deteriorating. I started using Brain Gym techniques with
her father in law and saw a dramatic change. He was able to focus better,
his balanced returned, his speech and memory improved and he became much
happier. I attribute his health improvements to Brain Gym. Since her
father in law passed away, I have started working with Karen again.
I am 63 years old and also use Brain Gym techniques to keep healthy and
fit. Brain Gym uses simple techniques that exercise different
parts of your brain, and the exercises are fun (there are exercises called
Elephant, Owl, Crazy 8's). I saw an elderly lady doing Brain Gym
exercises during church services! Peggy, mentor

Chemotherapy brings about interesting developments in the human body, both physically and mentally. We hear a great deal about the physical, but very little about the personal ones. My firsthand encounter with these personal changes was the scariest part of the whole process. I thought I was losing my mind. Living in isolation in my home due to chemo’s compromise of my immune system, I envisioned trusting my mind to see me through the tough physical times. Reading, writing, crafts, and keeping my home running smoothly would be my mainstays. Wrong!
The good news about chemo is that the effects didn’t happen gradually. My inability to stay focused and/or remain with a task until completion started after my second chemo hit. It then progressed. The good news was that I had been doing Brain Gym with Karen Peterson and her Giving Back program for a number of years. I was well aware of the changes it brought about in the children we were teaching. (I have since been working in Karen’s Elder to Elder program and love the help it offers our seniors.) I was confident the Brain Gym movements could help me regain my focus and assist me with relaxing.
My initial movements were the very basic ones – Think of an X and Cross Crawl. Before I would get up from a lying position, I would visualize the X, open my eyes and see the X as I crossed my arms and legs. Then I would do the Cross Crawl, sitting ore standing if I could. When I was too sick to get up, I visualized doing the cross crawl. I was able to focus better and feel more in my body. This “talking to my brain” was a powerful feeling. I knew the crossing of the mid-line was “waking up” my brain and, in essence, putting the whole me back in charge. Chemo was to work on my body; I would control the messages to it. I achieved this by using many BG movements throughout the process back to wellness.—Peggy, mentor

On my first experience to practice Brain Gym with elders, I spent the hour session with Christine. When I first saw her, she was seated in her wheelchair at a table with “Allure” magazine in front of her. She was more interested in looking around her surroundings and the people from our training group. I was attracted to the smile on her face-- an invitation to me to make a connection. I asked her permission to sit with her and do exercises together with her, and she accepted with a nod and smile. She was easy to understand and seemed to comprehend instructions well, though she definitely benefited from one-on-one assistance from me. It seemed that she had more limited mobility and weakness of her legs and feet than in her upper body. She was enthusiastic to try all the new Brain Gym exercises, accompanying her actions with nods and smiles. She allowed me to physically lead her through the activities. She reacted positively to my touch while I guided her body to get the intended benefits of stretching, relaxing, stimulating, and balancing. She remained focused on my instructions to her and participated the entire session. Christine responded in an extraordinary way when we practiced The Owl. After we practiced being Owls, her eyes widened with surprise to feel pain relieved in her right shoulder and neck! She said that it felt “like bones fell into place”!!! Having this experience seemed to give her incentive to try everything that was presented in Brain Gym. I reminded her that she could practice Brain Gym like The Owl to relieve pain in shoulder/neck on her own, now that she felt how it worked for her. I invited Christine to return to future Brain Gym sessions. She expressed desire to return, and now she has real motivation to do that! I would like to cultivate a relationship with this cheerful, friendly woman in the future. I’m confident that she would benefit from my interest in her. She has shown me that Brain Gym can have dramatic effects in an elderly person confined to a wheelchair with limited mobility. I very much look forward to working with Christine and others at Hale Makua!— Marilyn, mentor.

MENTEE TESTIMONIALS

This program is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I’ve always been athletic, now I’m slipping. Doctors don’t help. It is much easier for me to step down from a curb. I am more aware. Coming here and identifying the activities, what I need, how I can help myself. Two classes and a light bulb came on. This illuminated my problem areas. One by one it identified my instabilities: up and down at curbs, balance, rising from floor or seats, writing, reading retention. Solutions doctors can’t give me. Before this, I was going down a slippery slope, losing the facilities to be able to balance. I have limitations, but I see the possibilities. The world is opening up. I see possibilities. I shout your praises to all.-- Jean, elder mentee.

This has opened up my whole life—I am doing things I had given up. I have started painting again. I have more interest and motivation. I read more slowly with better comprehension. I have better balance.—Jean, mentee

After BG, walking was better—balanced. Tendency to lean right was less, walking was steadier.”—Lorraine, mentee

After we do the Arm Activation, I am standing straighter. After we do the lengthening activities, I am more grounded, centered when I walk. My posture is better.—Ginny, mentee

Various Mentees---------
“It is so hard but after we finish I feel awake and not tired.”
“I never thought I could do some of these things.”
“I enjoy our classes, I am so happy you come here.”
“After our sessions I feel like I can concentrate better.”
“I can lift my arm higher now then I could before.”
“Brain Gym must be working on you too, because you remember our names.”

It was like something became connected in my brain that had been scrambled or mixed up. Things that frustrated me before became easier.  My thinking and my problem solving skills improved.  I found myself looking forward to problems I could solve instead of fearing them. Mentee

My directionality improved.  At first it was difficult to do the cross crawling.  I wanted to use the same side. Then the crossing over became easier.   It has become easier for me to organize my thoughts and to find the words to express myself.
My near vision has improved after using a couple of different vision programs so I do believe that they are beneficial. Mentee

Make another class. We want a class going all the time. I like how it was different all the time—never the same. I felt better every time after class. My balance has really improved. I am walking faster. People say my face looks better, more radiant. Akiko is really a good mentor. Mabel, mentee

Stella, a receiver of the program, said, “I feel much healthier and physically fit. I am pretty good in my balance. I looked forward to the program and I enjoyed coming to the class. I like everything we did, and it helped me. I liked participating in the activities. Stella, mentee

When I came in I was tired, unenthusiastic, not feeling well, not motivated. I thought I’d try it. I came. My back is stronger, soreness in back gone; doctor say everything is good. Brother says-‘how you walk straight.’ Much better now, back not hurting. I have better attention to TV programs. Thelma, mentee
This class gave me confidence. I know more or less what to do to improve my condition. My ability to walk around improved. I recommend this class. Janice, mentee
I was all alone. I feel good around these people. I liked interacting with them. I like the activities, especially the wooden 8 with the marbles. Betty, mentee

I am 71 years old and took my first Brain Gym class last
fall, when Karen offered a workshop in the senior home where I live.
I use several exercises to relieve my neck pain and to keep relaxed.
I have had neck trouble for quite some time, saw a chiropractor but it
always returned.  After 2 to 3 weeks of using the Brain Gym techniques for
my neck, it is much better. The best thing about Brain Gym is
that it is simple, easy to remember and can be done at home or on the go.
I recently gave my daughter in law a Brain Gym instructional sheet for
her to use to help with her arthritis and to look at since her daughter in
law is a teacher.  (Peggy said that many schools now use Brain Gym
techniques to keep their kids focused, start the school day with, or use
before they take tests). Virginia, mentee

I am 82 years old, and have major balance problems after I broke my
arm 2 years ago. I had to use a cane to walk, could barely get out of a
chair, had trouble writing (she couldn't even sign her name legibly), and
had tried weights and balance classes based on recommendations from my
doctor.  I live in a senior residential home and about 6 months ago,
Karen did a Brain Gym session where I live. Brain Gym exercises have made a life-changing difference.  Now, I can walk a mile and a
half daily without a cane, can get up easily from a chair and write much
better.  It has changed my life, where many other remedies just
didn't work.  I do the Brain Gym exercises regularly (even while I am
walking).  The exercises are fun (it's like playing a game) and
easy to do and remember (there are exercises called Elephant, Owl, Crazy
8's). I am very eager to tell my story because I want to help other
seniors who may be going through what I went through. Jean, mentee
I use a wheeled-walker to get where I‘m going due to osteoarthritis along my spine, and across my shoulders and hips. When I started Brain gym, I wasn’t sure I would even be able to do the exercises, but I was determined to try. Now, I find the Owl is my best friend! It really helps to relax muscles in my shoulders that get so tense from usig my walker. Thanks, Brain Gym, you’ve been a life-saver! Nancy, mentee
The Gravity Glide is another winner for me. I can’t stand for very long and have a set in my shower. After letting the warm water run down my back, it is much easier to do this exercise in my shower. It is very helpful, as I tend to get back spasms. Just take it slow and easy. Think of it as yogs for seniors. I think you’ll be happy you tried. Nancy, mentee

I love the way I feel after class because I feel calm and balanced. It is especially nice because our class is held right after my work with the seniors. It helps me to relax and relieves all the stress I might have had during my work hours. I love to do the exercises because I can actually do all of them which makes me happy. The feeling of calmness is very noticeable when I am driving home after the class. Thank you for a very beneficial learning experience!
Marlene, Site Coordinator, Kaunoa congregate meal site