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7 Bradenton-area schools will be part of a new brain health pilot project

Bradenton Herald - 6/23/2022

Jun. 23—LAKEWOOD RANCH — The Brain Health Initiative arrived in Lakewood Ranch in 2019, designed as a living laboratory for scientists to investigate brain health across the human lifespan, from the youngest to the oldest.

On Wednesday, Dr. Stephanie Peabody, founder and executive director of the Brain Health Initiative, announced a pilot brain health program for schools.

The new program will begin with Lakewood Ranch Preparatory Academy, a charter school now under construction, and six public schools:

Lakewood Ranch High School

Dr. Mona Jain Middle School

Gullett Elementary School

Bayshore High School

Lee Middle School

Bayshore Elementary School.

"Through this collaboration, we will develop Brain Healthy School prototypes, which can be replicated and tailored for use by any school," Peabody said in a press release.

The pilot program will provide students, parents, caregivers and staff with the latest technology, programming and data to improve performance while addressing the overall brain health and wellness of the school family, Manatee County Superintendent Cynthia Saunders said in the press release.

The initiative can provide a benefit to life outcomes for students, parents and caregivers, as well as the ripple effect to the larger community, officials said.

Challenges to be addressed include readiness to learn, social and emotional development, school engagement, learning for understanding, learning differences, stress resilience, depression, anxiety, addictions, childhood obesity and more, Saunders said.

"Brain health and performance will be integrated in every aspect of the pilot school's culture," Peabody said.

That includes the learning environment — the building and facilities, seating, desks, cleaning supplies and lighting, before, during and after-school programs, food served and outdoor learning and play spaces, including brain training and meditation stations, Peabody said.

Parents and caregivers, school staff and participating high school students will have the option of participating in annual brain health and performance perception and prioritization surveys. The data gathered from these surveys will be used to identify brain health and well-being needs as perceived by the school community and to set an annual brain health strategic plan.

Through this initiative, participants will also have the opportunity to be screened annually with a confidential brain health and performance check-up. Each participant will receive an annual brain health report card, an index of functioning with suggestions for optimizing performance.

Lakewood Ranch Preparatory Academy, 5550 White Eagle Blvd., was selected by the Brain Health Initiative to develop the world's first Brain Healthy School from the ground up.

"It fits perfectly with our W.I.S.H. model that focuses on Wellness, Innovation, Science, and Health," said Bradley Warren, principal of Lakewood Ranch Preparatory Academy Lower School.

"This novel comprehensive focus on brain health and performance and the partnership between Lakewood Ranch Prep and the Brain Health Initiative will ensure that the entire school family — including staff, students, parents/caregivers, grandparents, and the greater community — have ready access to state-of-the-art methods to increase brain health and performance outcomes," Warren said.

In 2019, The Academy for Brain Health and Performance and Massachusetts General Hospital, a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital, announced the Brain Health Initiative was coming to Lakewood Ranch.

For more information on the program, visit


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