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Devin D. Thorpe
Devin Thorpe

One Father’s Dementia Inspired A Social Enterprise To Protect Billions

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

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Michael Trainer, 40, one of the founders of the successful Global Citizen events in Central Park in New York City, had a life-altering experience following the third concert. His father was diagnosed with dementia.

Trainer had been focused almost exclusively on Global Citizen, an event that people earn the right to attend by doing good deeds, activating tremendous cumulative impact through collective advocacy, donations and volunteerism. The shock of his father’s diagnosis caused him to reassess his priorities.

Recognizing that Global Citizen was in good hands, he left and began researching dementia, its causes and treatments. He came away determined to help people achieve “Peak Mind” and so created a new social enterprise that would encourage people to improve their health with an eye on preventing dementia.

Forest Whitaker and Michael Trainer at the 2015 Peak Mind Meditation summit with Dalai Lama

Watch the full interview with Trainer in the video player at the top of this article.

“While I have been focusing on issues like malaria and polio, diseases that are affecting the extreme poor, I now became aware of the fact that there was an extraordinary prevalence–growing prevalence–of diseases like diabetes and dementia that were affecting a different part of the globe.” Trainer continues, “And so it led me down the rabbit hole and was the genesis of Peak Mind.”

One of the things he found was a link between Type 2 diabetes and dementia.

Dementia already costs the world about 1% of global GDP or about $605 billion–and diabetes costs the world about twice as much. Trainer also explains that one in two people will likely get dementia, meaning that almost everyone will either get it or end up caring for someone with it. Similarly, about half the U.S. and Chinese populations are pre-diabetic. To punctuate this point, Trainer adds, ” We now have more obese people on the planet than non-obese people for the first time in history.”

Trainer compares his last venture with his current one. “With Global Citizen, we wanted to move beyond guilt and shame as a driver for social change, and more take people on a journey through hope and inspiration. I want to do the same with Peak Mind, only this time the focus is creating impact from the inside out.”

To inspire people to use and protect their minds, Peak Mind holds periodic events. The first event featured His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama hosted by Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker. At the events, Trainer says they hope to both inspire people and to provide practical, measurable steps people can take to improve their health and their lives.

Andrea Fennewald, Founder of The Wellness Collective, collaborated with Trainer on the first Peak Mind event. She says, “We believe change starts on an individual level, and thus aimed to create a shift in attitudes and habits around physical and mental health.”

Trainer says that Peak Mind is profitable, that it employs ten people and expects to increase that to 20 as the next event approaches. The company expects to top $1 million in revenue for 2016.

Michael Trainer with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

“I’ve been a social entrepreneur my whole life,” Trainer says. He lived and studied in Sri Lanka at age 19 and that led to a series of nonprofit, international development and social enterprise opportunities, culminating in Peak Mind.

“Our mission is at the core of what we do, my background is in building social movements, most recently as national director of Global Citizen. Most of these enterprises were nonprofit or for-purpose entities driven by impact at scale. With Peak Mind, the mission is the same, to build a movement around next-generation wellness,” Trainer concludes.

After learning of his father’s diagnosis, he took his dad to South Africa on a vacation. They shared a great bonding experience that included learning more about Nelson Mandela, whom Trainer considers his hero and role model. Peak Mind may not be able to cure those who have dementia today but Trainer hopes it will help prevent millions or even billions from suffering from it in the future.

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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

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