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Brain Power Wellness Reviews Its Partnership with Oneida Nation School System

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Betty Allen
Betty Allen
I’m the Under 30 Editorial Community Lead at Restic Magazine. Previously, I directed marketing at a mobile app startup in New York. I’ve also worked at The New York Times and New York Observer. I attended the University of Pennsylvania where I studied English and creative writing.

Brain Power Wellness and the Oneida Nation School System (ONSS) have partnered to enhance the community’s overall health and well being. In this article, Brain Power Wellness reviews its ongoing partnership with the Oneida School System.

Over the course of the current school year, Brain Power Wellness (“BPW”) conducted a series of visits to the Oneida Nation School System’s Elementary, Middle, and High Schools in Green Bay, Wisconsin. These on site sessions focused on empowering students to express themselves, nurturing their creativity, and fostering their confidence and positivity.

The Oneida Nation: A Brief History

Oneida (Onʌyoteˀa·ká)*

*Translated in various ways, among them, “People of the Standing Stone”

The Oneida Nation is a sovereign government and a federally recognized American Indian nation of the United States. The Oneidas-or, as they refer to themselves, the Oneyoteaka- are considered one of the original Five Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy (also known as the Haudenosaunee), dating back to the 1500s, which later became the Six Nations when the Tuscarora joined in the 1700s (the other nations are the Mohawk, Seneca, Cayuga and Onondaga).

The Treaty of Fort Herkimer (1785) and the Treaty of Fort Schuyler (1788) caused the Oneidasto to lose more than five million acres of their homelands to the State of New York. These land transactions continued to deplete the Oneida’s land holdings until, by the 1820s, only 32 acres remained in the Oneida’s possession.

The Oneidas relocated during the 1820s to establish new homelands which became the State of Wisconsin. They purchased land from the Ho-Chunk and Menominee to preserve their sovereignty as a self-governing nation. This band of Oneidas became recognized as the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin, now referred to as the Oneida Nation. In 1838, they entered their final treaty with the United States, ten years before Wisconsin entered statehood.

Today, Oneida Nation is one of the largest employers in Brown County and Outagamie County. The Nation has law enforcement, a court system, healthcare, and social services for its members.

To learn more about the history and culture of The Oneida Nation from their perspective, please visit their website at: https://oneida-nsn.gov/our-ways/our-story/historic-timeline/

The Vision and Mission of the Oneida Nation School System

The vision and mission of the ONSS serve as guiding principles that shape the goals, values, and overall direction of the educational institution. As the Oneida Nation School System shares on its website:

“The Oneida Nation School System will be the learning system of choice for our children by embracing the guiding principle that all young people have limitless potential and opportunity. The Oneida Nation School System upholds this philosophy through the implementation of the highest standards of excellence in academics, culture, and an integrated, holistic, collaborative approach to lifelong learning for the individual student, family, community, and nation. This commitment to excellence creates a path to responsible leadership, to plan and design the future in which the Oneida way of life is reflected and sustained.”

Brain Power Wellness Partners with Oneida

BPW became involved with Oneida through a friendship that blossomed between Oneida leader, Artley Skenandore’s friend and Dave Beal’s wife, Dawn Quaresima, at a wellness retreat in New Zealand, during which they shared ideas about bringing Brain Power Wellness into the Oneida Nation School System. In 2018, Beal and Quaresima conducted staff development with the ONSS staff and engaged with students during several class visits. As a result of these interactions, the Oneida Nation school leaders were motivated to bring the program officially onboard in August of 2021.

The partnership has been ongoing since then. BPW recently completed its fourth and final visit for this school year in Green Bay, WI. BPW’s physical and social emotional wellness services have been enthusiastically embraced by the ONSS Elementary, Middle and High Schools.

During this three-day visit, the focus was on connecting with students and teachers in classroom visits as well as conducting extended student leadership celebrations for the 80-plus student leaders who have participated in the program over the past two years. One highlight of the visit was the very popular Family Night. This was the third such event, where the Oneida Nation families attended an evening of games and activities that brought challenge, relaxation, and joy to all who attended.

The power of creativity was the primary emphasis throughout all of the sessions. Students were invited to participate in activities such as, “Creative Shapes,” which invited them to draw as many different pictures as possible from a limited number of shapes in just a few minutes. This activity gave students license to express themselves creatively and also practice their presentation skills with their classmates. Creativity is integral to all Brain Power Wellness themes and exercises, as it encourages participants’ inner greatness to be revealed naturally and organically.

During the visit, BPW took special care to celebrate the efforts of more than 80 student leaders, by conducting a three-hour program for each of the three designated cohorts. The students participated in team-building exercises which included leading brain breaks in small groups; taking gratitude walks outside; and collecting natural objects for an art project. In particular, students enjoyed the meditative atmosphere of these nature walks. These inspiring art pieces were displayed during Family Night, after which the schools were free to continue showcasing the art through the end of the school year.

Student leader and fifth-grader, Azailyah Wollapuse, commented: “Brain Power Wellness is calming, and all the exercises that we do help us because we have more confidence inside us. Then you’re more positive. That means you have a good mind. After you’re done with Brain Power, you have a good mind and a good heart that’s ready to learn and go on with the day.”

Azailyah is one of nine students who plan to attend a Brain Power Wellness retreat in Ellenville, New York this summer. This Advanced Student Leader retreat provides the opportunity of a select group of student leaders to dive deeper into their purpose as Oneida BPW Student Leaders. They can then bring their enhanced awareness and leadership skills back to their respective communities, in order to keep Brain Power Wellness alive and activated for the coming school year.

Oneida School Teacher Leader, Gordon House, shared his reflections on the benefits of Brain Power Wellness for himself and the students:

“Brain Power has really impacted me when it comes to sharing. What I mean by sharing is genuinely being yourself and really being genuine with another person. Sometimes, teachers have things that are going on in our lives, just like the way students have things going on in their lives, too, and we forget to reset. ‘Reset’ meaning: Ask yourself, ‘What did I do this morning that made me happy today?’ or ‘What did I have to do to prepare myself to be at school today?’ or even remembering some key things from Brain Power, such as thinking: ‘If something’s challenging, maybe I do this,’ or ‘If I’m feeling a certain way, maybe I begin to do this.’ That’s what Brain Power Wellness is trying to get the kids and staff to understand. Brain Power Wellness facilitates a change in our thinking by encouraging us to look deep within ourselves.”

BPW’s partners at ONSS have shared their desire to improve the overall health and well-being of their staff, students, and families by striving to realize their vision of a one-minded community. Brain Power Wellness will continue collaborating with the ONSS, to help build the most sustainable social-emotional wellness infrastructure possible, in support of the long-term wellness goals of the school system’s leadership.

About Brain Power Wellness

Brain Power Wellness is a holistic, school-based wellness organization that supports healthy, happy, and focused school environments. The mission of Brain Power Wellness is to help transform the culture of its partner schools through self-development, mindfulness, community building, retreats, SEL, holistic wellness, and brain training for teachers, students, parents, and administrators. Recently, corporate groups have begun attending Brain Power Wellness retreats, where participants receive powerful tools for creating healthy, sustainable, and happy work environments.

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