An unconventional school program at Yukon Alternative Learning Experience is helping at-risk high schoolers get their diploma through equine therapy.
“The kids love it, we normally run about 100 kids through our program per year,” said Kathy Boeckman, the House of Healing CEO.
Cara Perkowski and Joseph Thacker are students at Yukon Alternative Learning Experience. Both have anxiety and enjoy their weekly sessions at House of Healing.
“You really learn how to be more comfortable asking for help, being more comfortable, and confident,” said junior Cara.
“You really have to manage your emotions. When we’re out here with the horses have to make sure I’m confident and able to lead the horse before I get out there and have patience with the horse so I can work with them,” Cara’s partner in Monday’s exercise, Joseph Thacker said.
In the program, students learn how to groom, ride and care for horses. The Y.A.L.E. School Counselor said there is a specific reason they work with these animals.
“Horses pick up on your emotions, it helps them identify like ‘well this horse is being skittish’ what can I control on myself to help calm the horse down,” said Kaylan Liles.
The counselor said these exercises help build skills they can use outside of the classroom like regulating their emotions and leadership skills.
“After they get done with this program they are thriving in the classroom and thriving on their work. They are wanting to build a relationship with their teachers, with their students so it’s really a huge transformation from when they start this program,” she said.
This program runs completely off grants and donations.
“It is an extremely expensive program to run and to keep up with. It costs about $2,000 per horse a year and that’s if they don’t have any problems,” said Boeckman.
With four horses at the House of Healing, Y.A.L.E. School can offer this program to 14 students a semester.