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Our mission

SpinPoi is dedicated to improving lives through poi - a fun, accessible, affordable way to engage both the mind and body.

SpinPoi was founded by Dr. Kate Riegle van West, an interdisciplinary researcher and artist with a passion for play and wellbeing. Over the past decade she has conducted the first study to scientifically investigate the effects of poi on health, invented the Orbitar (a digital poi musical instrument), and given poi workshops across the globe. She continues to push the boundaries of poi, with a focus on utilizing poi in aged care as a tool for improving physical, cognitive, and emotional wellbeing.

From a young age Kate gravitated toward climbing on things/hanging upside down/causing general panic for her parents. At age 7 she joined a youth circus in the USA, and immediately knew the circus was her home. It was also where she eventually discovered poi, an unassuming sock with weight in the end that completely spun her life around (pun intended). Kate continued performing and coaching circus throughout her studies and career as a digital artist, web designer, and musician, but became frustrated with the lack of evidence around poi as a tool for improving health. At age 28 she left her job at Harvard University and moved to the other side of the world to pursue a PhD on a ball on a cord. She currently resides in New Zealand, working with aged care facilities and other organizations worldwide to use poi as a tool for improving health. She still gravitates toward climbing on things, hanging upside down, and causing general panic for her parents (despite her best efforts).

Advisory team

Cathy Stinear

Applied Clinical Neuroscientist

Associate Professor Cathy Stinear is the Director of the Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory in the Department of Medicine at the University of Auckland, and the Director of the Brain Research Clinic at the Centre for Brain Research. Her work focuses on translating neuroscience discoveries into clinical practice. Cathy supervised the first scientific study on poi, health, and older adults, and continues to play an important role in shaping subsequent poi/health research endeavors.

William Orr

Rehabilitative Physiotherapist

William has been working as a Rehabilitative Physiotherapist for the past 15 years and is passionate about getting people moving and healthy. He completed a post graduate certificate in musculoskeletal physiotherapy at Auckland University of Technology and is a skilled assessor of movement dysfunction, helping people through all ages and stages of life to restore optimal function and live an active life. He is working with SpinPoi to utilize poi as a rehabilitative tool, engaging the body and mind to improve overall functional ability.

jamie moore

Social Arts Facilitator

Jamie has taught circus around the globe at five different circus schools and at international and national circus conventions. He has been spinning poi for 14 years. Jamie worked with SpinPoi as a research assistant for the first scientific study on poi and health.  Currently based in the UK, Jamie continues to consult with SpinPoi regarding flow arts research, and specialises in teaching mixed circus to people with physical and intellectual disabilities.

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