WEST SPRINGFIELD – Talitha Abramsen, director of the Brain Balance Achievement Center of West Springfield, recently announced the after-school learning center is celebrating its fifth anniversary and has accepted its first two international families.
“As the center celebrates its fifth year in operation, its reach is expanding well beyond New England,” Abramsen said. She noted that Elias Kamau Mwangi and his 9-year-old daughter Shalom traveled from Nairobi, Kenya, this July after his wife, Phelista, researched many interventions online and discovered the Brain Balance model, which resonated with her as both an educator and a mother.
The center is also currently working with Tristen Sutherland, a 10-year-old boy from Nova Scotia, Canada, who is also supported in this work by family.
Abramsen said one in seven children suffer from a developmental disorder, and parents are seeking out alternatives to prescriptions and formal diagnosis. Brain Balance Achievement Center of West Springfield is an after-school learning center serving children ages 4-17 who struggle with academics, social dynamics, and behavior, sensory and processing issues.
“Our unique brain-based, medication-free approach to childhood neuro-developmental issues is cutting-edge and built on the clinical research of Dr. Robert Melillo,” she said. “Brain Balance is a comprehensive program that combines physical and sensory motor exercises with cognitive skill training and healthy nutrition, placing both hemispheres of the brain back in sync.”
West Springfield’s center opened, under the direction of Dr. Megan Hudson of Holyoke, in the fall of 2010 as one of the first 20 centers across the country. It has since served over 200 families.
“Many of our families commute three times a week from one of five bordering states—New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island,” Abramsen said. “Still, many local families remark they had no idea the center was in their backyard for five years.”
Shalom Keru Kamau, the Kenyan child, relocated with her father, allowing her mother, Phelista, to remain in Kenya and raise their younger son. “The father-daughter pair lived with relatives and carpooled from Southbridge in order for her to attend this program,” Abramsen said. “They will be returning in April of 2016 to continue their work.”
Sutherland, of Novia Scotia, came to the center after his grandparents and aunts and uncles searched for answers regarding his daily struggles with attention and academics. Sutherland’s uncle found the book “Disconnected Kids,” written by Dr. Robert Melillo, and shared the book with the child’s grandmother, Elaine.
“His parents then drove down from Canada for an initial assessment in early summer, and the extended family decided they would enroll Tristen,” Abramsen said. “His grandmother volunteered to relocate and accompany Tristen down to West Springfield during the end of summer and beginning of fall, so Tristen’s parents could stay back in Canada and care for his younger siblings.”
The family is currently staying in a local hotel for an extended period of time, in order for Sutherland to attend Brain Balance and address his developmental gaps and challenges.