December 2019:  Wow! It Has Been One Incredible Year at Kolob Canyon                               

As 2019 comes to an end, we at Kolob Canyon are so incredibly grateful for this past year.  We were excited to welcome new therapist Virgina Sanford to our clinical team.  She has brought so much energy and caring to our team.  We were also happy to welcome a new Admissions Director Wendy Penrod to our Kolob family.  Her authentic warmth is so needed as parents navigate the admissions process.  With our breeding program, Kolob welcomed three new baby horses this past year.  There is just nothing as cute as little foals and colts frolicking on campus.  We also started a fostering program in association with a local horse rescue.  It has been a priviledge to help horses in need.  Our students have especially loved this opportunity to serve--although it can be very hard to say goodbye when a horse finds a permanent home.  Kolob earned Gold Status as a Research Designated Program in March.  Our committment to data collection and outcomes remains a top priority.  During 2019, Kolob was thrilled to be one of the founding members of SUPA (Southern Utah Program Association).  In September Kolob along with the other CERTS Programs was instrumental in organizing the first SUPA tour for Education Consultants.  Our clinical team received training in Natural Lifemanship, a trauma focused psychotherapy.  This therapy based on connection and attachment will be an integral part of the Kolob Canyon program.  And let's not forget our adventures--something we do so well!  Students, therapist and academic staff enjoyed trips to Arches National Park, Great Basin National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Valley of Fire State Park and so much more.  In the summer we enjoyed hking, camping, swimming, cliff juming, river rafting and paddle boarding.  In the winter we loved downhill skiing, cross country skiing, ice skating and snowshoeing.  What a truly amazing year!  We can't wait to see what 2020 brings our way.



November 2019:  Fostering, Adopting and Service To Animals Is Important To Our Students 

Students at Kolob Canyon are involved with animals on a daily basis.  Horse chores, Equine Therapy and Horsemanship Classes are an integral part of our program and our student lives.  For many of our students they will share their feelings with a horse before they will with their therapist.  Every 6 weeks our students are able to provide service at Best Friends Animal Santuary or at Dust Devil Horse Rescue.  These service projects are often a highlight for students and our team members.  We recently took our relationship with Dust Devil Horse Rescue to another level when we started to foster some of their horses on our campus.  Students have worked diligently to provide a caring and nuturing environment to horses that are malnourished and often experiencing their own anxiety.  Helping these horses regain health has been so impactful.  It can however be hard on the day when a fostered horse is healthy and is ready to move to a new adopted home.  Our students feel happy that a horse has recuperated and sad as they say goodbye to a horse that they love so much.  

During a recent visit to Best Friends Pet Santuary, our students fell in love with an older dog, Sparrow.  Sparrow has had multiple placements and had difficulty with these previous placement opportunities.  He struggles with separation anxiety and it was hard for him when past owners had to leave him at home while they went to work.  Sparrow had also been in an accident and lost one of his front legs.  This also made it more difficult for him to be adopted as well.  Our students felt an immediate connection to this sad and anxious fella.  So in November, Sparrow became the newest member of our campus.  He is still adjusting, but has 12 students and numerous staff who give him daily cuddles.  He is welcomed into therapist offices to support students during therapy sessions.  Sparrow is learning to trust us and we are finding that our hearts are big enough to love another animal in need of nurturing.  

OCTOBER 2019:  "EVERY BRILLIANT THING"....WAS BRILLIANT                                                                                                                                                                     

There is a play with a life-affirming message so powerful that the Utah Shakespeare Festival is offering it to every public high school and university in the state of Utah to help stem the tide of youth suicide. Every Brilliant Thing, by Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahoe, is an ingenious, heartfelt, highly theatrical one-person show wherein the narrator interacts directly with the audience.

Audience members learn that when the narrator was a child, his mother suffered from depression and attempted suicide. The narrator decided to make a list of all the things that make life worth living to persuade her to live, starting with #1, “ice cream,” and continuing to one million. This inventive, beautifully rendered theatrical experience is unique in the way the audience becomes a support community for the narrator and gains rich insights along the way about the things hiding in plain sight that make life worthwhile and wonderful.

On October 16th, students at Kolob Canyon were able to participate in this theatrical experience at the OTC Training Center.  Our students were part of the play both as actors and as they shared their own "brilliant things" throughout the show.  Because this play deals with the significant topic of suicide prevention, we spent time processing with our students following the play.  We feel very fortunate that our students had the opportunity.




Kolob Canyon is pleased to welcome Wendy Penrod as our new Admissions Director.  Wendy comes to Kolob Canyon with a wealth of experience.  She has been working with youth for the last 13 years in both the private and public sector.  Wendy actually worked as a mentor at Moonridge Academy many years ago and we are thrilled she has returned!   Most recently Wendy collaborated with local officials and educators implementing mental health preventive measures in schools and developing programs for students in risk.  Wendy is trained in DBT, Motivational Interviewing, Procedural Justice, and Trauma Informed Care. Wendy earned a Bachelor's of Fine Arts in classical acting from Southern Utah University.  While at SUU, Wendy met and fell head over heels in love with TJ Penrod.  The two just celebrated their twelfth wedding anniversary. Together Wendy and TJ sponsor an annual acting competition for teens.  Wendy believes with her whole heart that a comprehensive, compassionate approach with families is the most effective way to help youth become their best selves.

Five fun facts about Wendy....

1. Wendy loves improv theatre. She and her husband TJ own and operate a non-profit improvisational theater in Cedar City. They do weekly improv comedy shows and have traveled all over doing improv. Wendy is also the camp director for Camp Improv Utopia West, a weekend summer camp for improv artists from all over the world.

2. Wendy loves thrills. She loves super high rollercoasters and has been skydiving three times.

3. Wendy loves to travel and has been to 45 states, three countries, and plans to add even more numbers to those totals.

4. Wendy loves painting her nails and has a nail polish collection that could rival any professional nail salon.

5. Wendy's favorite color is leopard print. You name it, she's got it in leopard print.


KOLOB CLINICIANS TRAIN IN TRAUMA-FOCUSED EQUINE PSYCHOTHERAPY                                                

Our Clinical Team works tirelessly to enhance their skills so they can improve the lives of our students.  Our therapists have long been trained in Equine Therapy and have seen the benefits that it brings to the lives of our students.   In late September our amazing clinicians participated in additional extensive Trauma-Focused Equine Psychotherapy.  The training was provided by Natural Lifemanship.  Since 1986 this group has helped people overcome trauma and toxic stress by teaching clinicians how to help their clients form healthy relationships, with the help of horses.  Our clinical team Craig, Virginia and Ruth along with our Equine Director Anndi felt that this opportunity and training will provide even more support to our students who have experienced trauma.