In September, Chula Vista got a business in downtown that caters to students and families that may be struggling with a variety if social, emotional, and academic challenges. Brain Balance Achievement Centers is a drug-free program designed to improve cognitive and sensory skills, and naturally found itself in Chula Vista, said Brain Balance Center of Chula Vista owner Jon Pak.
Pak said his journey began because he has an adult son with developmental disabilities and was always looking for services for him, his friends and their families going through the same struggles.
“It is an incredibly frustrating world out there when you have a child with disabilities,” he said.
At that time, he worked in the financial industry, but was involved with some nonprofits and different philanthropic endeavors. One day, he decided to leave the financial industry to do something that he was passionate about.
“What I realized is that what I am passionate about is helping others,” he said.
“What a better way to combine that with what I do for my son, because we were always looking for the best services for him.”
That is when Pak found Brain Balance. He said at first it was too good to be true and wondered why something like it was not in San Diego. He wondered why there was no medical part to the program and why people kept saying it was such an effective program. So, Pak did his “due diligence.”
“I visited several centers in Southern California, met with staff, parents, and I realized that we were missing out in San Diego,” he said. “And, if you wait to have all your questions answered at one time, it might not take you anywhere. So, I just had to trust my guts and do it. We first built the Center in Carmel Ranch (2019) because it is where I live, my son goes to school, and it was a family centric area.”
Pak said Brain Balance works at the very fundamental aspects of a child.
“We understand that our body is an orchestra, and sometimes we are only as strong as our weakest link,” he said. “We determine what are the different areas in our children’s development that is holding them back and preventing them from flourishing and thriving with all their abilities.”
Pak said the program is “diagnosis agnostic,” meaning that a child on the autism spectrum, dyslexia, ADHD, that those are all good things to know about the child, but it does not affect the way they work with children. They conduct their own diagnoses and assessment in understanding a child’s strengths and weaknesses and find gaps or holes in their development.
“Then you see all the symptoms that the child is dealing with,” he said. “That is what we call the tip of the iceberg. Typically, the services that we find as a family to help the children is to address the tip of the iceberg. What happens often, is the failure to look at what is below the surface creating that tip. That is what we do here at Brain Balance.”
Pak said at Brain Balance they work at the foundations, with core strength, sensory processing, better awareness, primitive reflex, coordination, synchronization of the brain and body, putting all these things together. Then it adds social/emotional, nutritional, and learning skills components, and then work with children on their academic skills.
“We are coming from all different angles to take all the different abilities to an age appropriate level,” said Pak. “Everything has a milestone. Children should be able to do certain things by the age of three, then by the age of 5, and we want them to have all their abilities up to their age level. Then we help them put it all together and learn how to use them. When you start strengthening all those different areas, then their brain starts growing a stronger connection.”
Pak said in the beginning, it had to rely on parent reviews and feedback to show that the program worked, but now Brain Balance Centers have been in scientific studies, proving that its methods work.
“This was recently proved on a study from Harvard University on this program with children with ADHD, determining after three months in our program it is just as effective as a best case medicated child,” he said. “We are doing this without medications and the results are permanent. Now, there have been many scientific studies on Brain Balance. Cambridge Brain Sciences determined that our program, 11 out of 12 different cognitive skills they studied, saw significant improvement. General Mental Health, a peered reviewed journal, on a sample with 25,000 kids, on average of 50% increase of our metrics in happiness, academics, and many other areas. Now there is more scientific support of our program.”
Pak said the San Diego Brain Balance is larger with children coming from all over the county. He originally wanted to open a center in Encinitas or La Jolla but realized that 25 % of his students were already traveling from South Bay.
“Finding that out I felt I owed it to those students first,” he said. “I am Spanish speaking. I grew up in Chile. We felt close to our community in the South Bay and a good opportunity came getting a good place in a centralized location. It happened naturally and it has been great. We have Spanish speaking coaches, a new Spanish speaking director, so we are also serving the Hispanic community in South Bay.”
Pak said he wears “two hats,” and understands that this is a for profit business, but that it also has a mission.
“We know that this program is not assessable to everyone, but in our heart, we want to help everybody,” he said. “We are always looking for ways to contribute to the community, one way or another. Even if families are unable to join the program for different reasons, we want to continue being a resource to the community, pointing them in the right direction, provide them with free services, or anything available to help them, even if it is just a little bit.”
Brain Balance Center of Chula Vista is located at 310 3rd Avenue. For more information, visit www.brainbalancecenters.com/locations/california/chula-vista.