(√) What is the Primary Goal of WTM?
To help children learn to feel their bodies so they understand what is going on inside them. Children learn how the bundle of sensations they have in their bodies are foundational to how they learn, think, and feel. In every emotion, thought, or need sensations are hidden. Help them find a key to the inside, and the differences between the outer world and their inner authenticity become clear. Who they are and how they learn changes for a life time.
Look for the messages behind your child’s movements, and new doors open to understanding, patience, and insight. Now think, could their movements be the bridge between their inner and outer worlds? More importantly, get your children to sense the nature of their physicalness and they get empowered to know how to help themselves. They begin to feel in their bodies as the movement affects their thoughts. Through their bodies, children grasp how to verbalize what is going on emotionally. These insights relieve frustrations and sensitivities. The process of this kind of awareness calms them, makes them kinder, and helps their parents calm down too.
The methods were tested and proven effective in the overall atmosphere of a home and school. Stress gets relieved. Parenting, teaching, counseling are complex and demanding jobs. When you teach children how to find themselves, the adult also learns how to help them best.
Though anyone can learn from the body/mind organization, the critical age to teach this is between five and eight years old. The process of movement in development is the major thoroughfare of the sensory-motor systems and behavior. This awareness helps all children, not just children with behavioral challenges. This “movement” is not about motor skills. It is the physicalness of the mind processing information through the body. Motion is bundles of sensations engaged in the wholeness of the senses, the mind, and the world. (See LINK Science and Feldenkrais Practitioner)
Wellness Through Movement (WTM) began in January of 2007 when an innovative elementary school, Hawaii Preparatory Academy (HPA), became interested in the Feldenkrais® Method (kinesthesia movement) with their physical education (p.e.) classes. Ms. Catherine Rosasco Mitchell, a Feldenkrais Practitioner, joined Hawaii Preparatory Academy physical education (p.e.) teacher Susie Jones to create the WTM program for elementary schools.
During the same period at the start of WTM, Rosasco-Mitchell was asked to take emergency drug newborns as a foster parent. Her first baby brought her into the world of children with learning difficulties. She decided to adopt a program for all children regardless of condition.
For the next thirteen years, Rosasco-Mitchell continued to refine and test the WTM program. Parker School, Waldorf, and Kohala Elementary (2008 -2016) helped. After three years of testing, children displayed a serendipitous discovery. According to teachers and parents at the Kohala Elementary School, well-being and cognitive disorders improved. In 2018 Rosasco-Mitchell presented her hypothesis that re-educating the sensory body improves well-being and cognitive disorders. According to Cathy Kerr of Brown University (2017), the reeducation of neuromuscular patterns could be related to the behavior of cognitive function.
As of August 2022, Rosasco-Mitchell continues working with professional educators and researchers to compile a comprehensive educational website to share WTM tips with all people working with elementary school children.
Our Hui (Our Cooperative)
Founder and Co-Creator 2004 – Present
Catherine Rosasco Mitchell, Feldenkrais® Practitioner
Rosasco-Mitchell’s research came from neither neuroscience nor academic research but in the trenches working in schools and private practice with the Feldenkrais® Method. The serendipitous discoveries lead to groundbreaking understandings of a muscle sense in neuromuscular behavior to cognitive development and mental disorders (ADHD, ADD).
With her lessons, cognitive conditions improved and sustained five years later (according to Principal Danny Garcia of Kohala Elementary (2009-2019). Findings were based on the Wellness Through Movement program, a Feldenkrais-Physical Education program for Elementary Schools. From this work, she published the book “A New SENSORY Self Awareness” and the school-culture video program, “Get Sensational Attention.”
Rosasco-Mitchell was honored to present at movement and cognition conferences, including the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD), Movement Is, and Neuroscience-Feldenkrais Method. After training with Moshe Feldenkrais, she continued her studies as a substitute teacher, foster parent, and advanced programs for children and the brain, including All Kinds of Minds, Schools Attuned®, Brain Gym®, Yoga Ed®, Anat Baniel® Method, and Cranial Sacral work. Her spiritual practice of eastern and western approaches of mind-(sensory) body integration broadens her understanding.
Susie Jones, M.A. Hawaii Preparatory Academy
Forty-year educator, Susie Jones was the physical education teacher for Hawaii Preparatory Academy. Susie initiated bringing Feldenrkais work into her physical education curriculum. She served as the “fun advisor” taking time during her Christmas break to help with the curriculum for the Wellness Through Movement p.e. program.
We will miss you Susie! And we will always carry on the love and joy you shared to others. Thank you for helping making this program possible.
Pilot School 2005-2013
Kohala Elementary School
Principal Danny Garcia, Teachers, and Parents
Thanks to the North and South Kohala communities on the Big Island of Hawaii for pioneering the program. A special thanks to Kohala Elementary school teachers and Principal Danny Garcia. And to the Hawaii Preparatory Academy (2004), your innovation for education helped us create the program and launch it in four other elementary schools.
Editors and Teacher Advisors 2020- 2022
Cherry Sanford, Teacher
For thirty years, Cherry had a wide range of teaching experiences in both public and private schools spanning Grades K-12. Teaching mostly at the elementary level, she has had high school and middle school experience as well. In addition to full time teaching positions, she has been a teacher’s assistant and substitute (both daily and long-term) in numerous classrooms in Hawaii, California, and Utah. For several years, she home-schooled her own elementary-aged children. Cherry was key in making the content understandable for parents and other teachers on this website. Mahalo Cherry for all those Tuesdays with Joyce O’connor editing content.
“I especially love working with young children. I am inspired by their enthusiasm, their inherent honesty, and their incessant desire to make activities playful and fun. As an elementary teacher for many years, I was interested in finding ways to optimize the qualities already natural to children and help them thrive in learning and in life. When I found WTM The Bridge, I discovered that by helping children become aware of sensations in their bodies, they could unlock doors to greater understanding in themselves and the world around them. I believe this is a huge step forward for educators across the nation and the globe. As it turns out, children already possess all they need for successful learning and growth. We, as trained educators in the process, merely need to show them how to find the keys.” Cherry Sanford
Original Board of Advisors (2005-2013)
Catherine Rosasco Mitchell B.S: Teacher of Kinesthesia, 20 years
Susie Jones M.A: Physical Education Instructor/Administrator HPA
Esther Hughes M. Ed.: CSSS RT Comprehensive Student Support System Resource Teacher
Jody Lubrecht Ph.D.: Consulting Clinical Psychologist
Doug Connors: Laupahoehoe Train Museum, Grant Writer
And many, many teachers, administrators, and parents, we thank you.
Jo Piltz, Catherine Rosasco-Mitchell, Danny Garcia, and John Holland (2012)
Jo Piltz, executive editor; John Holland, writer; Danny Garcia, Principal of Kohala Elementary; and Catherine Rosasco-Mitchell, Feldenkrais® Practitioner were the core members of our team.
William Prothero, Professor, UC Santa Barbara (2006-2018)
Bill Prothero has had forty years of experience doing both Earth science and educational research. His research activities have been in ocean floor seismology, studies of earth structure beneath volcanoes, and the creation and evaluation of learning environments supported by internet technology. Bill is dedicated to making a difference in the consciousness of humanity with the environment and each other. His personal time is spent developing new educational software, playing jazz, and riding his bike.
Pat Linton, Former CEO of North Kohala Community Hospital (2007-2013)
Pat Linton also served as the Founding Executive Director of the new Seward Community Health Center in Seward, Alaska. Pat and Catherine met years ago when he came to North Hawaii to design, construct and open a prototypical hospital that blended allopathic and complementary medicine within a total healing environment in collaboration with Earl Bakken (inventor of the pacemaker and Co-Founder of Medtronic). Pat has served in a number of senior leadership positions throughout his career and has been dedicated to improving personal and community health in holistic ways through all of these endeavors.
His mission can be summed up by his quest to bring together his professional interests in healthcare leadership and his personal interests in spiritual growth through their common goal of healing. By creatively applying what he has explored and learned, his hope has been to better contribute to the good of all in the communities he serves.