Skip to main content

Brittany Is Smiling

Guest Blogger
Jennifer C. Jones


Brittany is smiling. Her large, liquid brown eyes shine but there is a certain sadness in them as well. You can barely see the scars on her arms.

“I was cutting myself,” she admits matter-of-factly. “I guess that’s why they sent me to RedCliff. I tried suicide twice.”





Just 15 years old, she grew up in an abusive home. An aunt stepped in and took Brittany to live with her. But the girl’s problems persisted. She threatened her niece with wilderness intervention but Brittany, rebellious, depressed, and dabbling in drugs, never thought she’d follow through. Until the day when her aunt handed her over to two escorts and tearfully told her niece, “This is the hardest thing I've ever had to do.”

Brittany spent more than four months in the harsh wilderness. She refused to pass off her course work because, as she explains, “I really thought the rest of my family would guilt trip my aunt into coming and getting me.” Her aunt held fast.

Today Brittany is a student at Discovery Academy, a therapeutic boarding school located in Provo, Utah. She’s working on her high school diploma, starring in the school play and continuing therapy.

Although a few Discovery students have never experienced a wilderness program, the Academy serves as a transitional stage for students who are hoping to turn newfound understanding into practical life skills. It combines the best therapeutic intervention with academic programs specifically tailored to the child’s needs. Students can earn high school credit as well as take advanced courses and college entrance exams.

DA’s academic program is based on a holistic approach that combines competency-based learning with student directed progress goals and group learning activities.

Max Thomas, an English instructor, explains, “A lot of kids might have ADD, ADHD, problems focusing. They can come here and they deal with it, they learn to work around it. They walk out of here knowing how to study, how to not be distracted, and how to have some success.”

Equine Therapy is another hallmark. Simply put, it means helping students understand through experience. Raoul Willard is a Discovery Academy therapist and equine instructor. “What horses do very well is reflect the feelings of the people working with them. In the first one or two sessions the kids will almost always connect with a horse that is similar to them.” Willard says Discovery students learn much more than horsemanship. “They learn about themselves. They learn about life.”

“I'm a completely different person,” Brittany says with conviction. “I have so many skills and talents I was just letting go to waste. Sometimes I still struggle with depression but I've learned how to be successful. People don’t look at me now and say, ‘She’s a person that needs help.’ Now they look at me and say, ‘She’s a person that’s strong.’ In a way, I guess I feel special. I’m glad my aunt thought I was worth saving.”

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Perfectly Wicked - A new take on an old fairy tale!

Guest Blogger Amanda Schultz Age 15 There she was…hair as black as night, lips as red as blood, skin as white as snow. Standing by the window, washing dishes, whistling while she worked. Snow White. I shudder with disgust every time I hear her name. What kind of a name is that anyway? “Snow White”. Gahhh, it’s a name that practically begs to be made fun of. Yet, there she goes, frolicking around like she owns the Enchanted Forest. No. I’m the Queen. I’m in charge. My magic mirror was mistaken. I’m the Fairest of them all, not that sorry excuse for a princess. One bite from my poison apple and that air-head will be so ugly not even her mother could love her. And I will be the Fairest once again! I suppose that I should rewind a little bit. It wasn’t always a competition between Snow White and me. In fact, back in the day, we had a nice little system going on. I would rule the kingdom and practice my magic, while Snow did the dishes and tended the garden. She stayed out of my w

An Open Letter to Parents Researching RedCliff Ascent

By Stephen C. Schultz "We will be known forever by the tracks we leave." Having been raised in Oregon, I spent the majority of my childhood and teenage year’s steelhead fishing the coastal waters, climbing the Middle Sister in the Cascade Mountain Range, drifting the McKenzie River and hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.  I have mentioned to friends, family and colleagues on many occasions;   “From a therapeutic standpoint, there is no better place to have a student’s issues manifested quickly than in a wilderness setting.” The question then becomes, “Why do therapeutic issues rise to the surface in an Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare program like RedCliff Ascent ?” Throughout the years of teenage development, most teens spend a lot of time with friends. These friends think the same, dress the same, act the same, listen to the same music and sometimes get into the same types of trouble. Some teens also develop patterns of communication and manipulation

Life transitions are inevitable! I'm no exception

By Stephen C. Schultz This is just a quick email to share with you that after 20 years with the Ascent Companies, I am making a transition. I want you to know that the last 20 years have been more than I could have ever wished for. What a great opportunity I have had to not only work with, serve with and be friends with all who are a part of the RCA , DRG , DRB , Oxbow , Discovery Day PHP , Connections and Oasis programs. I owe such a debt of gratitude to the four original owners, Dane Kay, Steve Peterson, Scott Peterson and Jim Salsbury for seeing my potential and taking a risk on me back in 2002. Steve Nadauld, Brent Hall, Andrea Burgess, Clint Dorny, Shawn Brooks, Steve DeMille and the program teams have been like family and an absolute joy to be around.  I feel honored to have played a small role in the success you as educational consultants, private clinicians and us as treatment providers (working together) have had over the years on literally thousands of families.  #GRATITUDE