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Taking the health benefits of poi to the world

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17 February 2020

Dr Kate Riegle-Van West is on a mission to spread the health benefits of playing with poi. The researcher and artist completed the world’s first scientific study of poi and wellbeing as a PhD student, winning awards for her ground-breaking research. With the support of the University of Auckland Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Kate is now taking her venture SpinPoi to the world. Her poi techniques are being implemented by healthcare professionals as a rehabilitative tool and she is about to embark on a New Zealand and Australian tour throughout 2020, running workshops for the community and for healthcare and aged care staff.

Kate fell in love with poi while in a circus in America and moved to New Zealand to pursue her passion for working with poi to improve wellbeing. She undertook a PhD in the effects of poi on physical and cognitive function, supervised by Professor Cathy Stinear – Director of the Brain Research Clinic at the Centre for Brain Research and Director of the Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory, and Associate Professor Ralph Buck – Head of Dance Studies.

Her clinical study proved benefits in grip strength, balance, and attention for healthy older adults after just one month of poi practice. A subsequent pilot study conducted at Auckland Hospital’s Rangitoto Ward measured the success of poi with patients primarily recovering from stroke, falls, and/or other neurological conditions. The feedback from the study was very positive, with the majority of patients reporting they thought poi could be helpful for their recovery.

Buoyed by validation in poi as a rehabilitative tool, Kate took part in the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s Velocity programme, working with mentors to develop the business case for social venture SpinPoi and ultimately winning $15,000 in the Velocity $100k Challenge and a place in the Centre’s VentureLab incubator.

Kate is now working with a team at the hospital to implement poi as a permanent tool on the wards. She hopes poi will add strength to Te Toka Tumai’s mission of delivering culturally sensitive services, as well as provide a simple, fun, cost-effective addition to current rehabilitative exercise programs.

Kate says, “Being part of the Velocity 100K challenge, and now continuing in the 6-month VentureLab incubator, is like having a giant safety net under me as I navigate the complexities of entrepreneurship. While it’s still possible to really mess up and fall through the net, the mentorship and seed capital provided by Velocity are generally there to catch me and to help ensure SpinPoi survives and thrives during this formative time. This has prompted me to take more risks and has alleviated some of the daily worry and stress that goes along with pouring your heart into a venture.”

SpinPoi has a robust advisory board which includes her former PhD supervisor Cathy Stinear as well as Orquidea Tamayo Mortera, President of the New Zealand Society of Diversional & Recreational Therapists, and Paora Sharples who is Kaihautu at Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga and a professional teaching fellow in Māori Studies at the University of Auckland.  SpinPoi also has certified instructors that have been trained in how to work with poi in a health and wellness context. Along with instructors in New Zealand, they also have instructors in Australia, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Kate is currently working on future implementations of poi as a rehabilitative tool and is working with New Zealand company Home of Poi to develop special poi that meet hospital standards, which includes being durable, soft, and completely washable.

SpinPoi’s nationwide tour to aged care facilities, universities and other organisations has been so popular she has added dates and extended her 2020 tour to include Australia. She is planning a bigger international tour for 2021.

Kate says “I envision poi in every hospital, aged care facility, community center, school, corporate wellness programme, and beyond. The global interest and applications are very exciting, and a wonderful opportunity to engage with and share part of Te Ao Māori with the world, as well as help build intercultural understanding and awareness. The work I’ve done with SpinPoi so far is just the very tippy tip of the iceberg. Stay tuned and follow SpinPoi on social media to watch it all unfold and learn how you can improve your own wellbeing, one orbit at a time.”

Social media: @spinpoi on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Patreon

Website: www.spinpoi.com

James Hutchinson
James Hutchinson

social media

17 February 2020

Dr Kate Riegle-Van West is on a mission to spread the health benefits of playing with poi. The researcher and artist completed the world’s first scientific study of poi and wellbeing as a PhD student, winning awards for her ground-breaking research. With the support of the University of Auckland Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Kate is now taking her venture SpinPoi to the world. Her poi techniques are being implemented by healthcare professionals as a rehabilitative tool and she is about to embark on a New Zealand and Australian tour throughout 2020, running workshops for the community and for healthcare and aged care staff.

Kate fell in love with poi while in a circus in America and moved to New Zealand to pursue her passion for working with poi to improve wellbeing. She undertook a PhD in the effects of poi on physical and cognitive function, supervised by Professor Cathy Stinear – Director of the Brain Research Clinic at the Centre for Brain Research and Director of the Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory, and Associate Professor Ralph Buck – Head of Dance Studies.

Her clinical study proved benefits in grip strength, balance, and attention for healthy older adults after just one month of poi practice. A subsequent pilot study conducted at Auckland Hospital’s Rangitoto Ward measured the success of poi with patients primarily recovering from stroke, falls, and/or other neurological conditions. The feedback from the study was very positive, with the majority of patients reporting they thought poi could be helpful for their recovery.

Buoyed by validation in poi as a rehabilitative tool, Kate took part in the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s Velocity programme, working with mentors to develop the business case for social venture SpinPoi and ultimately winning $15,000 in the Velocity $100k Challenge and a place in the Centre’s VentureLab incubator.

Kate is now working with a team at the hospital to implement poi as a permanent tool on the wards. She hopes poi will add strength to Te Toka Tumai’s mission of delivering culturally sensitive services, as well as provide a simple, fun, cost-effective addition to current rehabilitative exercise programs.

Kate says, “Being part of the Velocity 100K challenge, and now continuing in the 6-month VentureLab incubator, is like having a giant safety net under me as I navigate the complexities of entrepreneurship. While it’s still possible to really mess up and fall through the net, the mentorship and seed capital provided by Velocity are generally there to catch me and to help ensure SpinPoi survives and thrives during this formative time. This has prompted me to take more risks and has alleviated some of the daily worry and stress that goes along with pouring your heart into a venture.”

SpinPoi has a robust advisory board which includes her former PhD supervisor Cathy Stinear as well as Orquidea Tamayo Mortera, President of the New Zealand Society of Diversional & Recreational Therapists, and Paora Sharples who is Kaihautu at Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga and a professional teaching fellow in Māori Studies at the University of Auckland.  SpinPoi also has certified instructors that have been trained in how to work with poi in a health and wellness context. Along with instructors in New Zealand, they also have instructors in Australia, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Kate is currently working on future implementations of poi as a rehabilitative tool and is working with New Zealand company Home of Poi to develop special poi that meet hospital standards, which includes being durable, soft, and completely washable.

SpinPoi’s nationwide tour to aged care facilities, universities and other organisations has been so popular she has added dates and extended her 2020 tour to include Australia. She is planning a bigger international tour for 2021.

Kate says “I envision poi in every hospital, aged care facility, community center, school, corporate wellness programme, and beyond. The global interest and applications are very exciting, and a wonderful opportunity to engage with and share part of Te Ao Māori with the world, as well as help build intercultural understanding and awareness. The work I’ve done with SpinPoi so far is just the very tippy tip of the iceberg. Stay tuned and follow SpinPoi on social media to watch it all unfold and learn how you can improve your own wellbeing, one orbit at a time.”

Social media: @spinpoi on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Patreon

Website: www.spinpoi.com


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