Thursday, May 20, 2010

A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!

The Berkshire Juvenile Court in Massachusetts has found an imaginative way of dealing with troubled teens that have had some minor run-ins with the law. Instead of sentencing these teens to highway cleanup for their minor offenses, the Court sentences them to participate in a 10-week performance program with the Shakespeare and Company. The program is called the Shakespeare in the Courts Project.

This innovative program forces troubled teens to step outside of themselves and learn skills the heretofore would never have considered. The goals of the program are to encourage group participation, develop listening skills, self-esteem, responsibility and commitment for a project, leadership skills and to foster a sense of accomplishment.

These are some of the same goals we hope to accomplish with our teens here at Sorenson’s Ranch School, but instead of learning to perform Shakespeare, they learn horsemanship skills in order to perform and compete in local 4-H competitions. The 4-H program encourages group participation as they learn together the ins and outs of how to care for livestock, how to ride a horse, and how to compete in local county fairs. Learning to ride a horse with a group of other riders develops listening skills as they have to pay close attention to what those around them are doing and saying as they train their animals. Winning awards in the 4-H competitions builds self-esteem and gives participants a sense of accomplishment.

Many of Sorenson’s Ranch School’s troubled teens have come from urban areas where they have never been near a horse or seen a buffalo. They have no concept of how food is grown or what it takes to manage a herd of cattle. It is their first experience in the processes of growing hay, from daily having to move large sprinkler lines to helping load the bales of hay onto the flatbed trucks.

Our country is faced with many troubling complex issues today, not the least of which is our youth, and with so many teenagers having difficulties Sorenson’s Ranch School commends programs like the Shakespeare in the Courts Project. Many families are in crises these days, and parents need all the help they can get. We at Sorenson’s Ranch School strive with great diligence to change the lives of those troubled teens in our care in order to give them a brighter future. So that one day they may “Be not afraid of greatness.”

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