Each week, the girls at Red Hawk Academy experience numerous recreational therapy activities. Adventures include horseback riding, hiking, swimming, kayaking, skiing, sledding, and service projects. Our students regularly attend local cultural events and activities. Our therapists attend weekly recreational activities to ensure therapy doesn’t stop at the office door. The youth can learn integral skills in each part of their stay at our boarding school for troubled girls. All of the recreation activities in our program are hand-picked specifically to teach skills to help with independence, life skills, teamwork, and problem-solving. Activities are planned and executed to complement the therapeutic objectives the girls are working on in their teen therapy.
Our residential treatment center is ideally situated for many outdoor recreational therapy activities. Our students are within a quick drive from numerous National Parks, including Zion, the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Capitol Reef, Kanaraville Falls, and Cedar Breaks National Monument. There are countless horse trails, lakes for kayaking, deserts to explore, and mountains to hike. Staying active and participating in lots of recreation is necessary to balance the focused teen recreational therapy students participate in daily.
Ropes challenge courses can be seen as the ultimate group or team challenge. Ropes courses combine vertical and horizontal challenges, constructed from wood and ropes installed above the ground and strung between large wood telephone poles. The ropes are large, thick, and sturdy, allowing the young women to walk across during various exercises. Low ropes courses are always directed by two Red Hawk staff and supervised by a licensed clinician. All young women use full ropes course safety equipment at all times while in session.
When the girls are on the ropes course, there is an excellent opportunity for them to learn about positive risk-taking, their own perceived limits, how they perform under pressure, how they give and receive support from other people, and how working with others collaboratively can help them achieve more than they thought they could accomplish. Ropes courses at our teen recreational therapy program can be tailored for use with various struggling behaviors or mental health challenges. Our team can adjust to different populations of teen girls and accommodate a wide spectrum of individual dynamics. Youth have seen ample progress when they engage in ropes course activities.
The Red Hawk Academy equine therapy program is delivered by two sisters in our team – Valerie and Melanie. They were both taught by their cowboy father, Kenny Stewart. Both are EAGALA-certified instructors- an evidence-based method to facilitate equine-assisted therapy. As horseback riding is not part of the EAGALA model, we have incorporated riding as an additional recreational therapy activity for the girls to be involved in their treatment.
Each time a young woman can get on a horse, her self-confidence and trust increase. Teens learn how to control and redirect their anger because they have a stake in the outcome. They do not want to upset or hurt a horse they have come to care about!
The innocence of the horse reinforces the need for teenagers to identify other ways to express their emotions to achieve positive, productive results. When a teenager encounters a horse’s behavior that confuses them, they must learn how to put themselves in another’s place, figure out what the horse is experiencing, and then find the most efficient way to proceed.
Horseback riding, approaching, interacting, and mounting a horse force a person to confront fear and insecurities. Teens will learn to overcome their fear, remain calm, and move forward with positive feelings despite any underlying lack of confidence. These dynamics will, in turn, help them build their self-confidence.
They will also discover the exhilaration of horseback riding, especially if fear has prevented participation in physical activities in the past. The ability to remain calm and complete a task regardless of self-doubt and fear is a highly empowering experience. Once a teenager gains insight into how to work with a horse effectively, she will become the leader.
Learning to care for and ride a horse increases the bond between the rider and the horse. The more consistent the teenager is, the more attentive and cooperative the horse becomes. In this way, teenagers learn life skills, such as practical and positive communication, trust, and how to control their anger and frustration.
We believe each YOUNG person is a unique individual. We
respect the contributions they have made and will make in
their lives and to their communities. We are sensitive to their
social, emotional, intellectual, and physical needs. We
believe strongly in providing a physical environment that is
safe, clean, healthy, and oriented to the highest quality of life.
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