Rotary Club Project Aims To Help Parents Stimulate Children’s Brain Development


The Brain Game is available for free in both English and Spanish.

Inspired by a simple book that has had a profound impact on children across the country, Joan Bermingham made it her mission to bring The Brain Game to St. John.

Developed by a Rotary Club in La Crosse, Wisconsin, with input from medical professionals, psychologists and more, The Brain Game is a guide for new parents to help encourage brain development during a child’s first few years.

“I went to a Rotary International convention in New Orleans last year and in a committee this book was introduced as a project for clubs,” said Bermingham, a member and past president of the Rotary Club of St. John. “This book was developed by professionals in the medical field, psychologists and day care workers. It was a Rotary project for the club in La Cross, WI, and has been used by Rotary clubs across the country to great results.”

“The book made such an impact on me, I thought, ‘we need this here,’” said Bermingham.

The book, which is available in English and Spanish, is broken up into different sections corresponding to the child’s age. The first section covers newborns, with ensuing chapters relating to three to six months, six to 12 months, and 12 to 36 months. The Brain Games explains how a child’s brain develops at an amazing rate in the first three years of life.

“The brain grows to adult size by the age of three so the child is learning more during this three-year period than she ever will again in her lifetime, including when she is in college,” said Bermingham. “There are small things you can do that make a really big difference in the development of the child like talking, playing, touching, reading and listening to music.”

The book is easy to read and recommends simple steps for parents to take, which could be easily implemented in any home.

“The books talks about things like when changing a baby’s diaper to talk to them,” Bermingham said. “Babies recognize the mother’s and father’s voice immediately after it is born — so talk to them and sing. Music is very important and so are nursery rhymes.”

“Children learn to repeat the same sounds over and over so rhymes are great,” she said. “Children also love faces — within a few weeks, a child will mimic the expression in your face. They are just sucking up knowledge at that age, which is why they can’t just be left alone.”

There are also sections in The Brain Game for parents to write down questions to ask medical professionals, Bermingham added.

“There is space to record questions for doctors or nurses and there is space to write down the answers so when you get home you won’t say, “What did the doctor say,’” said Bermingham.

A guideline for what children should be doing at different ages, like rolling over and crawling, is also included in the book as well as a calendar for parents to keep track of all those firsts, like words and steps.

After learning about The Brain Game, Bermingham was determined the book could make a difference on St. John, she explained.

“I went to my Rotary club and contacted a club in Hyannis, MA, which gave us a contribution of $1,000 toward purchasing books,” said the Rotary club member. “We also had a generous benefactor on St. John who donated another $1,000 and now we’re going to raise funds in collaboration with Kimberly Boulon.”

St. John artist Boulon was looking for a way to honor her mother and new grandson while hosting an opening at her new Kimberly Boulon Fine Art Gallery on the second floor of The Marketplace. She painted a beautiful landscape of Francis Bay which will be raffled off at her May 11 opening with proceeds going to the The Brain Game project.

“Kimberly approached me about doing something to honor her mother, who turns 91 this year, and her 10-month-old grandson,” said Bermingham. “We both thought this was the perfect project to support.”

Raffle tickets for Boulon’s painting “Francis Bay in April Light” are $10 each or six for $50 and are available on Tuesday and Thursday at the gallery and at Connections and Chelsea Drug Store.

The books cost $10 plus shipping and will be given out free of charge to new parents by their medical professionals, explained Bermingham.
“I have been distributing books already to medical professionals who give them to their clients,” she

said. “I’ll be ordering more as the need arises and we raise more funds. The books will not be sold, they will be given out to medical people in the community who have contact with the parents of newborns.”

“We’re getting copies of the book in Spanish and English so we hope to reach all new parents on St. John,” she said.

Bermingham is also spreading the word about The Brain Game to St. Croix, St. Thomas and Tortola, she added.

“I’ve already met with all of the clubs on St. Thomas, St. Croix and Tortola and they’re all interested in doing this project,” said Bermingham. “This will be a pilot program and the other clubs can come over and see how it will work and how to reach the most people to help parents stimulate their children’s brain development.”

For more information about The Brain Game project, or how to help, call Bermingham at 776-6182 or email