“Tell me and I will forget, Show me and I may remember, Involve me and I will understand.” Confucius 500 B.C.

PROGRAMS:

  • Applied Psychology for ages 13-19 years old  (Credit possible through ASD Credit By Choice or home school program)
  • Developmentally Disable Empowerment Program for ages 12 and up
  • Behaviorally Challenged Empowerment Program for ages 12 and up 
  • Emotionally Challenged Empowerment Program for ages 12 and up
  • Adults ready for feel energized and empowered
  • Specially Designed individual and group classes-please contact for more information     
 
 

The state certified teacher, Francine Reuter, will promote growth through Cultural ResponsiveEducation and Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning (EFEL).  EFEL is based on the philosophy of experiential education and learning.  The program has borrowed and incorporated ideas and beliefs from Native American philosophy of core values and other western philosophies.

The Spirit of SunkaWakan Youth Empowerment Program addresses established Alaska state academic standards in:

  • English/Language Arts
  • History
  • Skills for a Healthy Life
  • Developmental Assets
  • Social and Emotional Learning

Graduates of The Spirit of Sunka Wakan Program will increase effective leadership characteristics:

  • Gain skills to increase self awareness
  • Practice setting boundaries
  • Learn emotions are information
  • Improve communication skills
  • Deepen trust and respect for self & others
  • Develop a personal mission statement

To evaluate the effectiveness of the program  participants may be asked to complete a LEQ questionnaire. The Life Effectiveness Questionnaire (LEQ) measures self-concept, self-efficacy, and coping skills.  According to the designer, James Neil, “The LEQ focuses on measuring the extent to which a person’s actions/behavior/feelings are effective in managing and succeeding at life, or more specifically, generic life skills.”  It is also an efficient tool to develop documentation of the program’s effectiveness.  The LEQ is considered easy to use and is reported to have been used successfully in twenty large-scale research studies.  The questionnaire is designed so that test directors can gather additional information by varying or adapting the last few questions to address a specific agenda.  Some of the tested areas include creative self-expression, healthy risk-taking, goal setting, respect/boundaries, communication skills, and conflict resolution. This instrument is extremely valuable in monitoring the progress and providing crucial data of The Spirit of Sunka Wakan Empowerment Program.


Involving students in their educational decisions as Confucius pointed out 2500 years ago is important to their mastering concepts and achieving success. Inspiring students to want to make bigger investments of time and effort in their education will help address the needs of the school districts. Their goals are aimed at promoting academic achievement and social skills, decreasing dropout rates, increasing graduation rates, promoting health and wellness, maximizing opportunities for lifelong learning, and preparing students for fulfilling vocations. Federal and state requirements for increased academic test scores are forcing educators to focus on the academic parts of the curriculum. The spending of a disproportionate amount of time and resources on the academic program leads to the neglect of the physical, social, and vocational skills. Respected researchers have shown that directly teaching social skills not only improves students’ relationships and attitudes toward school, it also improves their academic achievement. The Spirit of Sunka Wakan Learning Program was designed to assist schools in motivating each student to value education, find his or her personal mission, acquire the personal, social, and academic skills to complete high school and continue his or her education and participation in the community as a fulfilled, contributing, and altruistically motivated citizen.

 
“For horses can educate through first hand, subjective, personal experiences unlike human tutors, teachers and professors can ever do.  Horses can build character, not merely urge one to improve on it.  Horses forge the mind, the character the emotions and inner lives of humans.  People can talk to one another about all these things and remain distanced and lonesome.  In the partnership with a horse, one is seldom lacking for thought, emotion and inspiration.  One is always attended by a great companion.”
Charles de Knuffy
International Classical Dressage Trainer
Experiences with horses frequently have calming effects on people.  I believe the peacefulness comes because horses are coherent which encourages and allows people to match their own energy states with those of the horses. When individuals are calm and coherent, they can access what is really in their hearts, express their deepest desires, and recall poignant memories.  By being in the present, and absent from worry about failure and feelings of self-consciousnesses, we are able to get in the flow that allows us to learn and have new ideas and feelings about what we experience.
 
In addition, according to Linda Kohanvo in, Riding Between the Worlds:
“In order to survive, animals preyed upon in nature have to be sensitive to emotional energy and the intention behind it. Horses, zebras and deer will often graze unconcerned as a lion which has recently eaten a big meal walks right through their pasture. Yet when an agile carnivore is on the prowl, the herd will scatter long before the cat can get close.”
 “The experience of living with human beings has given domesticated horses even more sophisticated skills. I have seen even the gentlest of geldings become noticeable agitated when his handler wore a mask of confidence and well being to hide anxiety. It’s as if the person appears out of focus to the equine awareness system. The body language of someone “putting on a happy face” is incongruent with the rise in blood pressure, muscle tension and emotional intensity transmitted unconsciously by an individual who is actually afraid, frustrated or angry.”
 
While The Spirit of Sunka Wakan attends to the whole person academically and emotionally, it also focuses on safety.  Before each equine activity, students will demonstrate responsibility for class safety and their own safety by reviewing safety precautions and stating their commitment to this safety agreement which was borrowed from Barbara Rector, considered by many the “grandmother” of Equine Experiential Learning: “My name is _____ and I agree to be responsible for myself today, and thus contribute to the safety of the group.”  It is important that students understand why they are making this statement and agreement.