- The nominator will review the narrative below or download it here.
- If there is a student(s) you wish to nominate for the BHI Brain Health Scholar program, please complete a brief online nomination form for each youth leader you choose to nominate and advise the nominee that they have been nominated.
BHI Brain Health Scholar Description
This program is open to individuals who are high school (15 years or older), undergraduate, or graduate student leaders who participate in a youth program, attend a school or a school within a school district (others by special consideration), or college/university that are collaborating with the Brain Health Initiative.
An authorized representative of the nominating organization will nominate identified student leader(s). The qualified candidate(s) should have an interest in science, medicine, health and human services, community or public health, and/or education. Brain Health Scholars have the right to refuse the nomination and may withdraw from participation at any time during the project.
Brain Health Scholars have the opportunity to participate in a hybrid model with Brain Health Initiative clinicians and scientists. Specifically, Scholars help carry out the community engagement, research, and innovation agenda with the Brain Health Initiative to better understand and take action on the brain health and well-being concerns, values, priorities, and attitudes of both youth and adults. Scholars participate in didactic training related to the science of brain health, as well as the scientific process of community-based research. Scholars also receive training, tools, and resources to translate science into action to impact themselves and those they care about, as well as to promote and protect brain health, fight brain illness and improve brain performance for all ages throughout the community.
This program is also strategically planned to personally support youth thought leaders and those they interact with through the stressful period of adolescent and young adult development, to normalize and destigmatize their lived brain health and illness experiences and to share the science of brain health and performance.
The Brain Health Scholar must have reliable access to the internet. Some elective research, community engagement and outreach responsibilities will require transportation. All scholars will receive an annual certificate of participation documenting service hours.
The Brain Health Scholar will work primarily remotely, so must have reliable access to the internet. Their duties include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Complete confidentiality agreement.
- Attend and complete didactic training including webinars, labs, and presentations on the science of brain health and research methods.
- Upon completion of training, serve as a Brain Health Community Educator.
- Complete the BHI youth stakeholder prioritization survey. In doing so, the research assistant will contribute a youth perspective on the brain health risk and protective factors in their community, and help to shape the research, community engagement, and intervention agenda.
- Assist in all stages of the research process on various BHI projects, including needs assessment, planning (program design), implementation and evaluation. BHI research projects may be descriptive, qualitative, quantitative, or exploratory.
- Assist in creating communications and recruitment of future Brain Health Scholars.
- Assist with creating press releases and participating in media events regarding the BH Scholar program.
- Serve as Brain Health Champions in schools and at community events.
- Manage and respond to project related emails.
- Receive support in the college undergraduate and graduate admissions process through letters of introduction and personal outreach by BHI faculty to the scholars’ top college choices.
About the Brain Health Initiative (www.brainhealthinitiative.org)
The Brain Health Initiative (BHI), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, uses a cutting-edge approach to protecting brain health, promoting brain performance, and preventing and fighting brain illness across the lifespan. The BHI is building brain healthy communities, cultures that foster brain health protective factors and address risk factors, thereby improving brain health and optimizing brain performance outcomes for the Florida Suncoast region and beyond. Join the Be Brain Healthy movement, because brain health matters, and lifestyle makes a difference.
Brain Health Scholar Pilot Program Outcomes
In its inaugural program, more than 69 students were appointed Brain Health Scholars and completed 6 months working with BHI clinicians and researchers learning about brain health in general, and how to increase protective and decrease risk factors through lifestyle behaviors. The Scholars participated in didactic training related to the science of brain health, as well as the scientific process of community-based research. The Scholars participated in the development of the community perception and prioritization pilot and final surveys for youth and adults and through this process, learned that two of the most prevalent brain health risk factors among Sarasota and Bradenton youth are sleep and stress. Further work with the students clarified the role that social media and sedentary lifestyle plays in interrupting sleep and adding stress into their daily lives. This learning has crystallized for the BHI the need to work together on improving youth and adolescent mental health as one of four core themes for the Brain Health Initiative. With funding, the Brain Health Scholars will have the opportunity to work alongside BHI faculty and producers, writers, and researchers of the Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma. The students will lead a Community Town Hall panel discussion regarding the implications of social media use to youth and adolescent mental health. This will lead to the development of a public health campaign to support brain healthy use of social media among youth and adolescents.
The potential of this program to boost brain health protective factors in youth and those with whom they associate while providing Scholars the opportunity to explore potential academic and career paths is enormous. Below are some quotes and attached is a portfolio from the inaugural class of Scholars about their experience in the program:
“I didn’t expect that my mental health, my physical health
and even my grades would improve….but they did.”
“I turn my phone and all other screens off about a half hour
before bed and meditate, this simply helps me sleep better.”
“The more I learned, the more I realized how
pertinent brain health is to my own community.”
“The program taught me multiple important aspects that go into
maintaining one’s brain health, as well as the extent to which brain illness
is present in society today – more so now than ever before.”
“I was able to learn how social media, physical exercise, and even
the foods you eat can affect the way your brain grows throughout your lifetime.”
Superintendents from Manatee and Sarasota Counties have requested we offer the Brain Health Scholars program to students from every high school in the region. And more than two dozen College Admissions offices, having learned about the program through student college applications, are requesting the BHI resources to help establish Brain Health Scholar Chapters on their campuses.
This single program provides a compelling example of the ways in which individuals can learn to be brain healthy. It also equips participants with the tools to help lead the BHI’s brain health movement and campaign for families and communities aimed at changing how we care for our brains and transforming how we promote optimal performance and approach brain illness.
BHI Brain Health Community Survey (Adult and Youth)
Sarasota and Bradenton, Florida Research Project Introduction
Brain health is about all of us, and brain illness is about most of us. No matter our age, gender, race, or ethnicity, no matter our socio-economic status or where we live, no home goes untouched. Brain health affects many aspects of personal and community well-being and performance. At the personal level, optimal brain health prevents and reduces the impact of neurological, neurodevelopmental, neuropsychological, neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases across the lifespan, such as autism, depression, addictions, Parkinson’s, dementia and stroke. A healthy brain promotes the ability to concentrate, remember, communicate, learn, experience and express emotions, regulate behavior, and engage effectively with the outer world through all primary life domains (e.g., relationships, learning, work and play). At the community level, brain health is associated with higher education goals, higher productivity, creativity, career achievement and personal success, lower drug use and incidence of crime, and better physical health, and overall well-being leading to less burden on the education, law enforcement, judicial systems, health care systems and society in general.
The Brain Health Initiative (BHI), in collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital, a Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital, is working to create brain healthy communities —cultures that proudly promote and protect brain health and fight brain illness across the lifespan through education/awareness/programming, science, innovation, and action. The team of scientists and clinicians at BHI focus on brain health promotion, prevention, early identification, evidence-based intervention and performance optimization. Building a healthy and highly productive brain and cultivating brain reserve begins with understanding the related needs, strengths, priorities and concerns that increase brain health protective factors and decrease risk factors across the community and at the individual level.
In order to begin this process, the BHI, in part through generous support from the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation, will conduct BHI Brain Health Community Surveys. Our past research indicates that the input from community members, including student leaders, provides valuable perspective for positive community growth. Therefore, we have developed two surveys, one for adults and one for youth (ages 14-19).
These surveys, and their results, will achieve several goals that will benefit the citizens and leaders of their community. Most importantly, the surveys will provide an opportunity for citizens and leaders to help shape the direction of the future brain health of their community and region by raising awareness of related attitudes, priorities and concerns, and by informing BHI’s research, programming, clinical trials and action. By participating in the surveys, citizens and leaders will also share ownership of this opportunity to increase brain health outcomes at the individual, family, and community level.
Survey participants will contribute by providing their:
- perception of attitudes toward brain health and illness;
- thoughts and concerns, as well as their priorities, about their community’s health and well-being;
- physical, mental, social and emotional health and well-being experience secondary to COVID-19 pandemic individually and in their individual communities.