“To foster, promote, and inspire self-knowledge, perspective and empathy.
Mission Statement
 
 

 

Through horse activities, creative expression and body movement, the Spirit of Sunkan Wakan is designed to increase effective leadership and communication skills while enhancing  motivation to fulfill short and long term goals- beyond the classroom.

 
 
Medical experts regularly point out the importance of mental health and its effect on physical health and patients’ accomplishments and happiness.   According to the Surgeon General of the United States:
 
“Mental health is a state of successful performances of mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships with other people, and the ability to adapt to change and to cope with adversity.” 
 
If individuals agree with the Surgeon General’s statement, then they would make the logical assumption that mental health should be addressed in school.  Without adequate coping skills or abilities students are hard-pressed to meet even the standards of basic subjects like reading, writing, and arithmetic.
Carla Hannaford, Ph.D., biologist, and educator, in her book, Awakening the Child Heart,  discussed a study about employer expectations by the National Learning Foundation.  
 
Corporations want an “… agile workforce made of flexible, curious/creative, cooperative collaborators, who are altruistically motivated, aesthetically aware, reflective in their thinking, ambiguity tolerant and risk-takers.  These are all traits that can only exist in a safe environment that empowers us to be authentically ourselves. Literacy, numeracy, and communication are still necessary, but only in context of these other characteristics (p.145).” 
 
If educators want to allow students to develop their individual talents and become the kind of people corporations desire to employ, they will have to provide an environment in which character development and collaborative skills are emphasized and nurtured.  The Spirit of Sunka Wakan Empowerment  Program addresses these needs.
 
According to Richard Louv in his popular book, Last Child in the Woods-Saving Our Childrenfrom Nature-Deficit Disorder:
 
“Children need nature for the health development of their senses, and, therefore for learning and creativity.  This need is revealed in two ways:  by an examination of what happens to the senses of the young when they loose connection with nature; and by witnessing the sensory magic that occurs when young people-even those beyond childhood-are exposed to even the smallest direct experience of a nature setting.”
The Anchorage School District has stated:
 
“When schools systematically attend to students’ social and emotional skills, the academic achievement of children increases, the incidence of problem behaviors decreases, and the quality of relationships surrounding each child improves.  Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process through which we learn to recognize and manage emotions, care about others, make good decisions, behave ethically and responsibly, develop positive relationships, and avoid negative behaviors. It is the process through which students enhance their ability to integrate thinking, feeling, and behaving in order to achieve important life goals.”
Some “lucky learners” have developed a high degree of self-knowledge, perspective and empathy, while many other learners have minimal amounts of self-knowledge, perspective, and empathy. Schools has an interest in developing these abilities.  For students to get to true understanding of core ideas in their academic classes, these skill areas need to be directly addressed.  The Spirit of Sunka Wakan Empowerment Program, public and private schools have a common goal; to help develop the introspective skills needed to move beyond rote recall to using knowledge and experience in a continued search in life-long learning.  A learner might need a little guidance to help unearth this skill, but it is in each and every one of us.  First, learners must apply “Know thyself” as the great philosophers of the world advocated over 2000 years ago.  This applies to all learners, regardless of their age.  Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky, teachers for over two decades at John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, state in,  Leadership on the Line-Staying Alive through the Dangers of Leading:
 
“By making the lives of people around you better, leadership provides meaning in life. It creates purpose.  We believe that every human being has something unique to offer, and that a larger sense of purpose comes from using that gift to help your organizations, families, or communities thrive.”
 Please join us at Spirit of SunkaWakan Empowerment Program to fuel and thrive!