Tag Archive for: Landmark Education


Educating Caregivers about Baby Massage

First-time mother, Wendy Zalles, wanted her healthy six-month old son Levi, to be relaxed and peaceful as she was after having the benefit of a massage, so she brought him to Robert Toporek, author of The New Book of Baby and Child Massage. What Wendy discovered is that babies, experience stress as early as their first minutes of life, and they receive relief through the power of touch. Researchers are finding that daily infant massage may promote better sleeping, relieve colic, and even enhance the immune system, motor skills, and intellectual development.

Toporek is a Guest Seminar Leader for Landmark Education, an author and an advanced Rolfing Practitioner (a specific massage technique). Rolfing is a form of deep tissue bodywork that brings new alignment by releasing and reorganizing the connective tissue in relationship to gravity. As a result, people stand straighter, gain height, and move with ease. Read more

We’re Moving Again – A Hockey Player with Guardian Angel Impacts Brain Trauma Treatment

George Kraft should be dead.

Lucky for him he has a guardian angel. It doesn’t hurt that he has been playing hockey all his life – and hockey players are tough.

This is the story of George Kraft’s incredible life and how he is impacting the lives of brain trauma patients as a participant of Landmark Education’s Team Management and Leadership Program.

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“It was the wildest thing,” said George. “I heard a little whisper in my head. It said, ‘Put a key under the mat and tell your brother where it is.’” The voice was his guardian angel. “Someone was looking out for me and saved my life.”

A few days later George didn’t show up for work. His coworker, Nancy, knew something must be wrong. George was never late for work, and if he thought he’d even be 5 minutes late, he’d call. Nancy called George’s brother that Tuesday morning.

His brother went right over and found the key under the mat, just where George told him to look a few days earlier. He unlocked the door and found George lying on the floor of his bedroom, unconscious.

George was rushed to the hospital, where it was determined he had a brain aneurism. He was born with a congenital defect – there was a weak spot where two veins meet in his brain.

“When my blood pressure got high enough it just went boom. Picture a fire hydrant going loose,” George said.

The doctors performed an emergency craniotomy. They cut out a piece of George’s skull the size of the back of his hand to repair the ruptured blood vessels.

The diagnosis was not good. In fact, the doctors didn’t expect George to live. At one point there were 14 tubes coming out of his head and his body swelled up so much he looked like the Michelin Man. He was in a coma for weeks.

“When I woke up, they were taking staples out of my stomach,” George said. That was Sunday, January 30, 2005.

The last thing George remembers was coming home from Steak & Shake after coaching his hockey team on Monday night. He had just begun taking blood pressure medicine and he was feeling really fatigued before the game. So he chose not to skate that night, and instead just coached from the bench.

That should have been a sign that something was seriously wrong. Looking at the 6’-1’’, 215-pound defenseman, you would not have guessed he was 41. He could skate every minute of the 45-minute game (three 15-minute periods) without missing a shift. Professional hockey players average less than 30 seconds of ice time per shift and are usually on the ice for only about a third of the game.

When George awoke in the hospital, he found out that he was paralyzed on his entire left side. He needed to use a wheel chair to get around. He had a hole in his head where the piece of his skull was removed that felt to the touch like he was pressing on a water balloon. It would be seven months before it was replaced.

Being bedridden, George needed a urinal and bedpan, which is not comfortable or easy to use. “I prayed to God, Please let me at some point walk to the bathroom again.”

In July, seven months after the aneurism, George was discharged from the hospital to a nursing home, where he stayed until October.

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George is currently in his second quarter of Team 2. He first participated in the Landmark Forum in 2003. In May and June of 2008 he took the “Communications Access to Power” and “Power to Create” courses and immediately joined the “Team Management and Leadership Program” in August.

Originally his Game in the World was to return to his practice as a Chiropractor. George had made an arrangement to join another Chiropractor, but in April 2009, she told him she had to move her office and she didn’t have room for him in the new space. “It was no fault of hers, but still very disappointing,” he said.

Having the distinctions of the communications curriculum, George was able to be with any communication. Had it not been for being part of TMLP, “I probably would have looked for a position somewhere else,” he said. “As a chiropractor with only one functioning hand, chances would have been very limited.”

That’s when George decided to create a Constraint Induced (CI) Therapy Unit at Belleville Memorial Hospital where he was receiving treatment. “I would have never seen the possibility had it not been for Team,” said George.

CI uses what’s called brain plasticity, the remolding of your brain to bring about change. It helps people with brain injuries get back the motor functions they have lost. Essentially it’s retraining the brain to send the signals to operate muscles. Dr. Edward Taub founded the therapy and has a clinic at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Patients must qualify for the treatment by sending a personal video demonstrating they are able to do all the exercises required in the therapy. After a year on a wait list, George was accepted to the program. In the fall of 2008, George went to Alabama to work on the use of his left leg. Three weeks later his walking strength increased by 40 percent.

“This treatment is over 95 percent effective, which is amazing for physical therapy,” George said.

During his treatment in Alabama, George had a 45-minute conversation with Dr. Taub about the possibility of starting a CI Therapy unit like Taub’s in the St. Louis area.

“He looked at me like I was half crazy and wished me luck.”

Six months after the arrangement to return to his chiropractic practice had fallen through George approached Belleville Memorial, located in Illinois 30 miles east of St. Louis, about the idea of opening a CI Therapy Unit.

“I used the distinctions of the communications courses to acknowledge the Director of Rehabilitation, Mike Tuckey and the entire staff at Belleville Memorial for their teamwork,” said George. “I enrolled others in my vision. I proposed we get the occupational therapists trained in CI inside the rehab unit.”

Tuckey realized the benefit this would have for his unit and the patients in it. He saw that it could set Belleville Memorial apart from other rehab centers.

Together, Tuckey and George enrolled John Kessler, the Vice President of the Rehabilitation Division, in the possibility of the new unit. The timing was perfect. Belleville just broke ground on a $200 million Rehabilitation Building that will be state of the art in the St. Louis area.

Kessler was so receptive, the hospital has committed to sending six occupational therapists to Birmingham in November for the next training session. Two of those therapists are part of George’s Game in the World Team. Heidi Haskins, Belleville’s lead Occupational Therapist, who worked with George during his rehabilitation, and Marie Matthews, the technician in charge of the Occupational Therapy unit, were both instrumental in convincing Tuckey to create a CI unit.

George expects to be working in the unit in about a year. “Patients with brain injuries need a chiropractor to help reintegrate the brain,” he said.

George Kraft has been on an incredible journey the past five years. Through all the time he has spent in hospitals, nursing homes and rehabilitation he never lost his old defenseman’s mentality or gritty toughness. “I made up my mind that there are some things I can’t do, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do what I want to do,” said George.

15 years ago George Kraft feels he was called to serve others, which led him to become a chiropractor. Now he is using his own rehabilitation from a brain aneurism as the inspiration to help others have the life they want.

“The distinctions of Landmark’s training basically gave me the insight and drive to keep going,” said George. “I know this is something I can accomplish.”

written by Steve Schapiro and edited by Shash Broxson

Well-Being Foundation

Denny Schmidt has shared on the Facebook page of Landmark Education TMLP alumni of the work of The Well Being Foundation, of which Schmidt is Project Develoment Director, a small group dedicated to providing clean water for an isolated village, Esupetai, in the Rift Valley of south-central Kenya.

Their current project is to create a solar-powered well which will drasitcally improve the quality of life of thousands of Maasai villagers. Drought, population growth, and the clear-cutting of trees have all had a severe impact on the availability of clean drinking water.

The Well-Being Foundation works directly with village leaders and the community to make a real difference in people’s lives without being encumbered by red tape. The project is no ordinary well – a 500 ftoot, solar-powered well that produces water for thousands of people is quite expensive – visit the website above of the Well-Being Foundation to learn more.

Bailey Takes on Global Clean Water

Donavan Bailey’s game in the world in Landmark’s TMLP program was ambitious – He has taken on providing clean water to the world anywhere that it is wanted and needed. To that end, he has created a Global Clean Water organization, and has begun to undertake projects in the developing world.

According to the site, pilot projects will focus on scouting for rural villages in need of a long term clean water supply. These villages will be selected when a meeting has taken place with the local head of the village and he agrees that the new water supply will benefit the village. Then a well will be drilled using the local labor supply. GCW will then place a hand pump at the well drill site. Training on hand pump maintenance will be ongoing as well as sanitation education. Assistance will be given in order to build a latrine and hand-washing station. Maintenance on the pumps will be conducted by the local village women and the bathrooms will be maintained by the children.

Bailey is just now heading to India to start setting up those projects – Look for an update from Team Leadership down the road!

Art Behind Walls

When Daniel Ager’s father was sentenced to prison for 16 years, Daniel knew right then he wanted to make some kind of a difference. The specific idea for the Art Behind Walls project came to him when he received his first letter from prison from his father (in the form of a poem) which included a beautiful sketch of he and his father that a fellow inmate had drawn from a photograph his father had with him.

Daniel realized that inmates had a contribution to make and a way to communicate through art and poetry. The first project he initiated is a coloring book for kids that inmates created through drawings of heroes that were imprisoned at one time, such as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Ghandhi. The coloring book is being given to teachers as an educational tool and to kids whose parent or parents are incarcerated. Watch Ager tell the story in his own words:

To find out more information, please go to the Art Behind Walls web site.

Gift of Life

My game in the world is called “The Gift of Life” and it is a blood drive. This game is a gift that keeps giving. The blood drive has a special meaning for me and my family. From May 16, 2005, through May 27th, 2005, my daughter, Amanda (now 13) received transfusions totaling 21 pints of blood. Community Blood Center was the center in charge for Amanda to receive Directed/Designated donations from family and friends, and it was also the center in charge of providing blood transfusions from strangers. It was reassuring to know that my daughter was able to get her family and friends blood transfused into her and just as reassuring was to know that because of unselfish strangers who gave of themselves through blood donations, my daughter had all the blood she needed. I was there living in the hospital for over four weeks with my daughter, other patients and their family. I witnessed and experience how precious blood is.

I can remember vividly how much Amanda’s little body needed blood to survive surgery. I can remember when Amanda was the first time in intensive care and how much her little body needed blood to sustain and survive. I remember how every that blood that was in a bag hanging next to her was been transfused into her body and giving her body what she needed.

How important it is to have Blood Drives and get the community involved in them! I contacted one of the directors from Community Blood Centers. His name is Luis and I asked him to be on my team. Then we set a date, created our team, and played.

I said I wanted to contribute and assist in a way that I could give back to my community and the world. I wanted to say thank you to God, to life, to the world for all that was provided to Amanda to her friends and family. I wanted to say thank you to all the lives I saw that were saved by a pint of blood.

This pint of blood didn’t stop giving once transfused it kept giving and giving and it still is.
My Amanda is living proof that a blood donation is a “Gift of Life” and it continues to live on.
By unselfishly giving one pint of blood, one person assures another person or even three that they will get through.

So it’s a game that touches, moves, and inspires me and inspires me to play for the world!

— Maria Perez, Team Florico

Families in Step

Andrea Howe and Becca Carr-Hopkins met by chance at a TMLP classroom in London. Andrea was visiting from Washington DC, and thought it would be fun to experience doing the program in a foreign country. Becca, one of 53 London TMLP participants, stood up at one point and shared about her Game in the World. In an instant, a global connection was created: both realized they were using technology to transform difficult step-family dynamics into experiences of relatedness and love. What followed was a blossoming friendship, as well as a shared commitment to make a difference for step-families all over the world. This is the story of Andrea’s project–To read about Becca’s project, check out this story on Step by Step.

Andrea’s inspiration for Families in Step came while she was Team One incoming at the TMLP weekend in Orlando, Florida, USA. For the first time in her life, she was seriously dating a man who came to the relationship with a divorce, two children, and a contentious relationship with his ex-wife. Searching for a focus for her Game In the World, she decided to create something to benefit step-families.

“While I had no experience whatsoever with these kinds of complex family dynamics as a ‘girlfriend,’ I am a step-daughter and I understand first-hand how challenging expanded family life can be,” says Andrea.

So, in September of 2007, Andrea created an amazing team that included a therapist, a divorced couple with children, and a married couple with children and step-children. Inside the possibility of generous listening and loving partnership, they rallied around one simple goal: to help members of step-families transform their communication such that family is no longer an experience of frustration, stress, and conflict, but instead an experience of love.

Andrea learned about the work of Dr. Jeff Schlichter, a Forensic and Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Family Mediator, and Collaborative Divorce Coach, and through a series of phone conversations, enrolled him in leading the project.

“We view step-families as expanded families, not broken families. And these expanded families have remarkable opportunities to help their children become exceptional adults,” says Dr. Schlichter.

By January 2008 the Families in Step web site went live (www.familiesinstep.com) and beginning April 2008, the first Step Talk call series will be piloted. Over the course of six weeks, step-family members from anywhere in the world will spend an hour a week on the phone with each other to learn valuable tips and tools from their facilitators, and also share common concerns, difficulties, solutions, and victories by communicating with members of other step-families.

Families in Step has already had an “others to others” kind of impact. “Here’s the irony of all this,” says Andrea. “Not long after the project was created, Dennis and I decided to end our romantic relationship. He never officially participated in the Families in Step project, and I haven’t yet met his children. But he and his ex-wife have completely transformed their relationship, and their children are thriving.”

Now that’s loving partnership in action, and an experience of love worth celebrating.
— Andrea Howe, Team Washington DC

The Fun House

The very first Fun House experience got underway in Brent with children and adults alike having a fabulous home from home day out.

The fun house aims to create an environment for families to share happiness, positive energy, and achieve a place where families unite and engage in true values. Here family bonding is paramount – all members will be encouraged to participate in various activities with a view to develop greater relationships with each other.

The house was the brainchild of Tamy Finkelstein and Mark Roblett. They both saw the need to put the fun element back into family life in the face of a challenging society and set about gathering a group of volunteers to make fun happen for families. The Brent council offered the use of a venue for the day.

Tamy and mark and their team moved to furnish it fit for family fun.

The fun day included most of the activities the fun house team would like to see in all fun houses – the plan is for a fun house to be available to families in every borough and a special resort built by the coast by 2012. during the fun-day, visiting families have the chance of a family photo session and the timetable continued with drumming, shake and bake fun in the kitchen, storytelling, face painting and even well organized graffiti. Tamy said “Fun houses will be spaces where families can get related and get to know each other for the great people we are. Children will be able to express themselves and parents will be able to re-live their childhood moments.”

— Tamy de Pelayo Team 1, Quarter 4, Team London

“Sing, Express!”

What would my game in the world be? I knew quickly it would be a singing or musical event among senior citizens and residents from nursing homes and skilled facilities. Their children and grandchildren will be watching their loved ones perform in a “recital”, a great term my committed colleague, Sean Peterson, offered.

Creating milestones was the hardest thing to do, especially starting from the end. I learned that “just doing it” in the face of not knowing whether it made sense, caused several possibilities – unimagined – to come true (miracles, in short). Standing in the possibility of the game of being alive, inspired, whole and complete made sharing the vision easy and clear. Conversation with Grace Lengkeek, Activity Director of Artesia Christian Home, went natural and free flowing. She expressed that she had been thinking of the same game for her residents. When she took it on and owned the game, I was elated. Seeing her fulfilled, fulfilled me! It’s like watching a little girl run off with my toy that I shared, she kept it, and I didn’t cry. This game showed a true leader, obliviously loving, caring, generous, her participants would ask her “what were they singing again?” and she’d whisper…then they sang and sang…who says they have dementia? Some played the piano, accompanied another to sing, a legally blind woman showed her knit work and ceramic pottery.

I had a hunch that singing causes relaxation, who disagrees? But my bigger hunch was it relaxes the mind of the elderly to a degree that they start sharing their life stories. During the enrollment stage of this game, I shared this vision with Salermo. He left the room quickly when I asked if he sang. He came back with a dusty guitar and started serenading me, then told of courtship days with beautiful Nellie. In the week prior to the event, Salermo was admitted to an emergency room (he was a frequent visitor). On his first day back at home, coming from nothing, I invited him again…he said he would take the bus if he had to. I proposed that his children give him a ride (Unity among family was my underlying commitment).

That didn’t happen (I meant the ride), but, I know opportunity had opened for this family. I, Carmelita, learned generosity quickly and provided the ride. Salermo was an astounding entertainer. He sang three serenade songs in his own language and entertained us with his life stories. Stories we would not hear of if he did not participate.

At the break, I have witnessed what Power to Create did. I was clueless, but, I declared that this Game will show the three generations honoring and celebrating each other, there’s magic in singing, the family experience of love, contribution, fun, relatedness, generosity. They were singing — Row, Row, Row Your Boat, or whatever. This one mom was singing an unfamiliar song with her operatic voice, and her son was lip syncing, enjoying her.

I hid when confronted by something “gigantic” which was not so big after all. I was about to quit when the other home could not deliver one day before the event, and Meg, my coach, supported me to be with what is so…no matter how small the crowd could be, it still made a big difference to the lives of who were there last night, and those who were there spiritually. Thank you for your stand. My report came in late, I chose to sit, watch an old favorite movie, instead of sharing my experience and excitement with you – and that’s what I give up, being stingy in sharing my wins!

I have not experienced so much love and generosity. It’s like a miracle for me! Giving up being right created the miracle of partnership – people took care of themselves and came up with other ideas. (Arlin, the back-up lady, will give this idea to a lot of homes to have more people invited.)

I have seen three generations singing to each other, honoring each other through music. One guest couple said, “This is a great idea!” when I declared this is going to be statewide. I am waiting to have an appointment with a congresswoman, Linda Sanchez. I say it will be a contest in different categories, one resident said “That’s silly!’ and her children said “Nope!”

I think the win is: the message was delivered – HOLDING THE SPACE FOR LOVE IN THE WORLD, LOVE COME HOME!

— Carmelita Tiongson-Manzanares, Team 1, Quarter 2, Team Los Angeles


Sweetwaters is a South African community dying of AIDS. Currently 196 homes housing in excess of 500 children are parentless and without adult supervision. These orphaned children live in a culture being shredded by AIDS.

Love Is All We Need is a charity committed to diverting what will be a catastrophic outcome for children, communities, a country.

The Hope Centre is a haven that houses children affected and infected with AIDS and reaches out into the Sweetwaters community taking measures to care for these children.

Presently these children are being raped and robbed, living in homes ill equipped to meet their needs and struggling to survive. They are unable to attend school due to lack of funds for fees and uniforms putting their futures in jeopardy.

At present The Hope Centre has set up a mobile mother scheme where 8 local women between them visit 90 homes a day. They earn a box of food and the equivalent of £10 a month.

Sponsor-a-mother is a project being set up to fund the existing mobile mothers and 12 more in the next 2 months. The aim is for these mothers to be earning the equivalent of £70 a month which is a decent wage (for 1 year initially).

Other immediate projects that Love Is All We Need is taking on for this community include a campaign to have 500 children in school in January 2008 and to provide each home with a small, safe cooker.

Ultimately we are in the process of working towards building a village inside the community that we believe is a long term solution for restoring the foundations of hope, love and security in a devastated community.

— Jo Lawrence, Team London