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Program designed to make learning easier
Associated Press

Lindsay Beardreau, right, assists 10-year-old Timothy Cassidy with a learning exercise at Learning RX in Fort Collins, Colo. during a training session for instructors.


Associated Press

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Published: 2/21/2009 9:38 PM

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FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- Fort Collins residents Mike Winchell and Don Cassidy both wanted to start a business and began searching for a franchise last spring. They came across LearningRx Franchise Corp., a Colorado Springs-based franchise of training centers that focuses on improving cognitive skills of learners of any age.

"We wanted to bring something to Fort Collins that was wildly successful somewhere else, and most importantly, we wanted to change people's lives," said Winchell, co-owner and executive director of LearningRx with Cassidy.

Winchell and Cassidy opened the Fort Collins LearningRx on Jan. 5 in a 1,500-square-foot building with space for training and assessment rooms.

"It's not academics. What we're doing is training the brain," said Lindsay Beaudreau, director of first impressions and one of the trainers who works with students. "We're working on the underlying skills ... to help make learning easier and more efficient."

LearningRx is used for a variety of learners, including students with learning disabilities, K-12 and college students who want to improve their academic skills, adults wanting to improve their job performance and senior citizens who want to stay mentally sharp, as stated in a LearningRx Inc. flier.

The idea of cognitive training, which strengthens the brain's synapse connections, is to make learning easier and faster, Winchell said.

"We're not like academics. It's all brain training," Winchell said.

Ken Gibson, founder of LearningRx, discovered through his research that 80 percent of learning problems are cognitive weaknesses, Winchell said.

LearningRx identifies the weaknesses through an assessment of cognitive abilities and mental skills.

"We break out all the mental skills that you currently possess, and we figure out where your strengths and weaknesses are," Winchell said.

Winchell, Cassidy and the nine trainers on staff work one-on-one with students on their cognitive skills, using a customized brain training program focused on strengthening their deficiencies.

The program is designed to strengthen weak underlying processing skills, including attention, working memory, processing speed, logic and reasoning, visual processing, auditory processing and long-term memory. These skills are the foundation of a student's ability to learn and are the basic mental abilities used for thinking, studying and learning, according to LearningRx.

"We want to exercise the weaknesses until they're strengths," Winchell said. "Because we do this every day, it causes that change in the brain. We do give your brain a workout."

The training is conducted one hour a day, five days a week for 12 weeks or longer, Winchell said. The average time frame is about 32 weeks, he said.

Winchell and Cassidy hope to train 200 students by the end of the year.

"They just need to unlock that potential underneath," Beaudreau said.