Celebrating International Day of the World’s Indigenous People

BRAINetwork [ via the First Mile Project ] and the indigenous communities of the Belum-Temenggor Rain Forest Reserve celebrated the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People on 12th August 2014 in RPS Air Banun. Read all about the activities below…….

This post is written by our guest blogger Gerard Dunleavy who is currently doing his internship at BRAINetwork. Gerard also prepared the videoclip that showcased the events of the day. We also had another visitor from Ireland. Emer had great fun in the rainforest. Thank you Emer for sharing part of your holiday with us. Enjoy !

The First Mile Project celebrated International Day of the World’s Indigenous People last week with the indigenous communities of the Belum-Temenggor Rain Forest Reserve. The main celebration took place in RPS Air Banun, with indigenous people from surrounding villages joining the festivities. The celebration was aimed at the youth of the indigenous communities, with games from football to hula hooping, skipping to making giant bubbles, attracting and entertaining children of all ages.

The celebration coincided with two integral elements of our community development programme, The First Mile Project. Last week saw our project successfully initiate a Computer Skills workshop in Air Banun. The workshop forms part of a larger plan to open a computer café in the indigenous village. Trainers from the Computer Unit, School of Health Sciences, USM travelled to Air Banun to deliver a full day workshop which 8 participants took part in. The participants learned how to fully set up the PC’s before moving on to some basic typing and computing skills. Two PC’s are fully operational and remain in the workshop room in Air Banun for participants to practice their new computer skills, hopefully they can introduce and educate their fellow communities members who didn’t make it to the workshop. By next week, the other 6 PC’s will be up and running in the first ever Rainforest Cybercafe run by the indigenous community of Air Banun!

A First Aid workshop also took place last week in Air Banun, with a team from the Emergency Department of Hospital USM lead by Dr. Shaik Farid Abdull Wahab performing the training. A First Aid workshop took place earlier in the year in Kota Bharu, with the same target group, but a low participation rate meant that it wasn’t as successful as we’d have hoped. A change in strategy was needed and this led to the workshop being relocated. Instead of being run in Kota Bharu, we decided that we would be more successful if we ran the First Aid workshop from within the indigenous village of AIr Banun. This proved to be the case with more than 10 participants attending and learning First Aid skills like CPR, how to clean wounds, how to apply bandages and slings. We hope to run additional Computer Skills and First Aid workshops to top-up the skills of those who attended the workshops, whilst also attracting, engaging and empowering those who are yet to attend a workshop. Eventually, this group of indigenous participants will earn their Basic Life Support (BLS) certificate and be on their way to being the first Orang Asal village with certified First Aiders.

Credits for video: Created by Gerard Dunleavy, Music: Lagu Perjuangan Orang Asal, Jaringan Orang Asal http://www.youtube.com/user/JaringanOrangAsal.  Video also avaiable at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8szLESNklMk



BRAINetwork showcases our community research projects

Hi there again everyone. BRAIN@work has not been blogging for about a month now and it’s only because we have had so many things going on at one time, it was hard to find time to just sit down, sit back and focus on what has been happening in June. Today, on the last day of the month, we will try to make up for lost time.

Our interactive booth at the RU Carnival@USM

On 13th and 14th June, BRAIN@work participated in a Research University Carnival held at the USM Main Campus in Penang. We set up an interactive exhibition which showcased the contribution that BRAINetwork has made in community-based research.

The hardworking team who made a success of the BRAINetwork Exhibition booth. Thanks Guys !!

Currently, BRAINetwork has several participatory and inclusive programmes in schools, pre-schools, rural and urban communities and with the indigenous people of the Belum-Temengor Rainforest. The focus is in changing mindsets, empowerment and the creation of sustainable communities. In the process, BRAINetwork has developed several neurocognitive tools that are able to assess eight neurodevelopmental functions related to academic success, five pathways of neurocognitive wellness and four aspects of community wellness and sustainability. At the RU@USM carnival, we highlighted the various games/ tests that could be used to assess the eight neurodevelopmental functions related to academic success.

Dato Seri Idris Jusoh signs the BRAINetwork poster at our booth

The RU carnival @USM was graced by the presence of the Minister of Education II, Dato Seri Idrs Jusoh and also Prof Asma Ismail, the new Director General of Education. Our relationship with Dato Seri Idris Jusoh goes back a long way when he gave us the funds to set up a Mind Centre in Besut, Terengganu. It was nice to meet up with Dato Seri and to highlight the progress we have made since then in terms of community-based research.

The six areas of BRAINetwork Community research are as follows:

BRAINetwork carries out sustainable community-based research projects through the BRAINetwork Mind Centres. There are mind centres in Terengganu [ MINDCeT ], Kelantan [Pusat Minda Mesra], Belum-Temengor Rainforest Complex and the Gaza Strip, Palestine. These centres are also supported by several organisations such as the Mattel Children’s Foundation, Pulau Banding Foundation and the Terengganu State Government.

BRAINetwork collaborates with both national and international partners. National collaborations include the Ministry of Education, National Sports Council, Malaysian Technology Development Corporation and Jabatan Kemajuan Orang Asli. International collaborations include FAIMER in the United States and Toyohashi University of Technology, Japan.

BRAINetwork research has been directly translated into innovative teaching-learning programmes at the School of Health Sciences, USM.
Undergraduate courses offered by BRAINetwork are:
1. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory [GEG217/2]
2. Fundamentals of Neurocognitive Science [ GEG316/2]
3. Project IMPACT [ implemented for GTU101 and GTU104 ]

The First Mile Project empowers Orang Asal children by providing the necessary knowledge, skills and attitude that enables them to maximise the potential of their own mind. The First Mile Project is highly participatory and to ensure sustainability, the decision making process is shared with the children themselves. All activities occur within a framework of self-directed self-learning processes.

Since 2011, the Mobile Brain Unit was able to reach out to various communities from across the country, from schools to Universities and communities within the Belum Temengor rainforest. Through the Mobile Brain Unit, BRAINetwork has managed to extend its outreach programme to involve more than 30 000 children. In all cases, the concept is to eventually set up self-sustaining mind centres that are run by the communities.

Since 2011, BRAINetwork has either translated and validated or evaluated several research tools for use within the community. These tools enable a comparative study between different groups as they are culture-free, language-independent and can be carried out by non-clinicians including members of the BRAINetwork research communities.

Send us an email if you would like to volunteer or be a co-researcher in any of these BRAINetwork community-based projects.

The Road to SUKMA XVII 2014

DSC_6436BRAINetwork was awarded a Sports Research Grant in 2012 for the development of a trimodal paradigm that utilises objective neuropsychological, biomechanical and electrophysiological assessment methods as indicators of the success or otherwise of existing techniques to improve mental as well as physical performance in archery.

DSC_6492Archery relies mainly on individual performance and provides an easily controlled set of research parameters. It is a mental sport, requiring high levels of neurocognitive abilities and mental strength specifically in terms of concentration, focus and the ability to perform under stress. However, the mental strength, skills and mindset characteristics of archers are intangible and not objectively quantifiable. Since these characteristics cannot be observed, it is very difficult to know if mental strength training has any actual impact on performance. It is also difficult to develop a mental training method for a sport since mental state is invisible, different in individuals, subjective, and difficult to evaluate in training results.

DSC_6747THE ROAD TO SUKMA XVII 2014, was held in USM Kubang Kerian from 18th to 21st May. It was organised by BRAINetwork and the National Sports Council as a training programme for the Kelantan State Team in preparation for Sukan Malaysia [ SUKMA XVII ]. It was also a research project for our MSc student Ridhuwan, who is assessing the trimodal paradigm in novice as well as expert archers. He carried out various neurocognitive and performance assessments and is now analysing the data in an attempt to correlate the neuropsychological [CANTAB and QNST II], biomechanical [KINOVEA] and electrophysiological [EEG] changes during archery.

BRAINetwork is very proud to be associated with the Kelantan State Archery Team and wish them the best of luck in SUKMA XVII.





BRAINetwork Exhibition

BRAINetwork recently carried out an exhibition in Sekolah Menengah Zainab 1. This exhibition was part of our mentor project with SK Zainab 1 as outlined in the previous blog. This time our exhibition was part of a donation drive to raise funds for the F1 project of Team Morus Alba. The children were trained as facilitators and were able to help BRAINetwork organise the exhibition which had three main components: (1)  BRAIN exhibition, (2) BRAIN workshops, (3) BRAIN tests and (4) BRAIN games. At the end of the day, the hard working Team Morus Alba managed to collect more than RM2500 to help them in their F1 project.

Thank you to the students of SM Zainab 1 for your support. Well done Team Morus Alba.