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Hiking Angel’s Landing in Zion’s National Park, Southern Utah

Thursday, 6 August, 2015

Angels landing Zions Hike

Some of our female students enjoyed a two-day hiking trip to Zion’s National Park, in Southern Utah. They, along with three staff members, hiked Angel’s Landing, which is one of the most famous hikes in the national park system.

Angel’s Landing boasts incredible views in every direction! Each girl had a huge feeling of accomplishment after finishing the hike! The accompanying staff was impressed there was minimal complaining on their strenuous journey.

After the hike, the girls found a campsite and successfully pitched their tent, with little direction from staff. In the evening, they built a fire and then prepared tin foil dinners, which the staff cooked. After a quick breakfast and cleaning up camp, the girls returned back to campus in Provo!

Angels landing Zions Hike 2

Angels landing Zions Hike 3

Angels landing Zions Hike 4

Angels landing Zions Hike 6

Angels landing Zions Hike 5

Life lessons learned from Japanese Art and culture

Friday, 1 May, 2015

Discovery Academy Art Therapy – Students learn life lessons through Japanese Art with Dr. Ann Ngatai.

Students were taught about Bonsai trees and had the opportunity to visit a local nursery to choose their own tree. Students learned that Bonsai trees reflect natural situations:
• Literary and wind swept styles reflect a tree’s endurance to overcome nature’s persistent elements.
• Formal upright styles are characterized by a straight vertical trunk and reflect calmness and a stately stature.
• Cascade styles are inspired by trees clinging for their lives from the side of a mountain.

Art Therapy Bonsai tree

Students have been practicing their kanji (logographic Chinese characters which are used in the modern Japanese writing system). Kanji reflects their perceptions of themselves and their aspirations. They have painted their kanji on Japanese rice paper. Among the 25 different kanji to choose from, there is:
• Love (Ai Suru)
• Happy (shiawa-se)
• Truth (Shin, shinjitsu)
• To Overcome/Win (koku)

Art Therapy Japanese Characters

Students are also learning about Japanese rock gardens which often have three stones with one leaning (vertically) and two supporting. If there are “leaning” stones, there must be “supporting” stones.” We pointed out to students that when we have struggles, we all have had a need to lean on our parents or others who are our support. Rock gardens imitate essence of nature (i.e. ripples in a pond), and serves to aid in reflection and meditation about the true meaning of life.
Students have been crafting origami cranes. In Japanese tradition, 1,000 origami paper cranes were folded to honor a marriage, but after the WWII bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki , the 1,000 paper cranes took on an additional meaning of hope for peace and health. In the art therapy class, they built upon this tradition with the students to take on hope for “personal peace within themselves” and “keeping goals of personal health”.

Art Therapy Japanese paper cranes

Students have been working on Koinobori (carp streamers or windsocks). The carp was chosen as a symbol for boys because the Japanese consider it the most spirited fish — so full of energy and power that it can fight its way up swift-running streams and cascades. Because of its strength and determination to overcome all obstacles, it stands for courage and the ability to attain high goals. It is hoped that each child will grow up healthy and strong like the wild carps. Presently, the Koinobori are used for both boys and girls on Children’s Day (kodomo no hi).

Art Therapy Japanese Carp

All of our students’ Japanese art creations were on display during the Parent Seminar in April.

Kokua Connection, Aloha Student overseas service tour in Hawaii

Tuesday, 7 April, 2015

Discovery Academy is excited to announce their first ever overseas service tour in Hawaii – KOKUA CONNECTION

Kokua Connection is based on the concept of the Hawaiian word “kokua”, to help, aid, assist, or to give relief. Kokua Connection is an experiential retreat that will offer your student the opportunity of a lifetime. We provide cultural education through experience and therapy through service, all while incorporating a positive and fun environment with lots of Aloha.

Although we would like to accommodate all students who are interested in this opportunity spaces are limited and student appropriateness will need to be determined by the treatment team here at DA. Our boys group will be leaving on June 21 and return June 27, 2015. Our girls group will be leaving July 12 and return July 18, 2015. Learn more at Kokua Connection.
Students will experience the following:

Cultural Exploration:

Sharks Cove-tide pool exploration
North Shore’s Sunset Beach and Banzai Pipeline
Zipline at Keana Farms including a fun ATV adventure
Snorkeling at the world-famous Hanauma Bay
Hike Hanauma Bay Crater Rim
Haleiwa- Shave Ice at Matsumoto’s
Waimea Bay or Hukilau Beach
Polynesian Cultural Center
​Students will experience the cultures of Polynesia walking through six different villages learning songs, dances, foods, and languages of the Polynesian people who have inhabited the Pacific islands for thousands of years. This activity will include a guided tour through the different Polynesian villages as visitors get to interact, experience and learn.

Historical Experience:

World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument USS Arizona Memorial. Students will be able to walk around the visitor center’s museums. They will then watch a short educational clip on events that led up to World War II. Students will then board a motor boat and ride across a section of historic Pearl Harbor to the actual site where the USS Arizona was struck down, and still rests on the ocean floor today.

Service (Kokua) experience:

Students will tour a certified working organic farm and will provide volunteer service each day to the farm by pulling weeds, planting, composting, soil preparations, and more. Students will learn about the new “farm-to-table” trend of serving healthy foods to consumers in the most sustainable way. Students will also learn the business principles of starting, operating, and sustaining an organic farm.

University Experience:

All food and lodging accommodations are provided by BYU-Hawaii and all students will have the opportunity to experience a university tour during their stay.

Please direct FEE and REGISTRATION inquiries to
Dr. Ann Ngatai, DA therapist (801)701-3711.

Simple tips for avoiding relapse over the holidays

Tuesday, 17 December, 2013

Why do so many people who are striving to live a life of sobriety relapse during this time of the year? How do we help ourselves or our loved ones be safe during the holidays?

By Matt Hendry
Clinical Director

Discovery Academy

The Holiday Season seems to bring out the best in people. We see generous acts of kindness on the streets, we share baked goods with our neighbors and the thought of giving permeates the air like the smell of the pine trees in our living rooms. So why do so many people who are striving to live a life of sobriety relapse during this time of the year? I want to share my thoughts on this to help those that may not see the signs, either in themselves or in a loved one that may be at risk for relapse.

First, the holidays seem to be very polarizing emotionally. There are times when it is a struggle to recall memories of being loved. Often this can be accompanied by feelings of loneliness. These kinds of thoughts also tend to bring similar emotional experiences that individuals had when using drugs or alcohol. Without even knowing it, those in recovery replicate an extreme emotional roller-coaster that offers a sense of familiarity and comfort. These extreme emotions cause the individual to start responding similarly to family, work and community situations as they did when using, namely isolating, fault finding and playing the victim.

Another point that needs to be mentioned is the over-stimulation of our senses during the holidays. So much of life around the holidays is extreme and overwhelming. There are the flashing lights, the constant music and the crowded stores that can be stressful. People’s day to day routines are set aside to run around and buy gifts, go to parties and celebrate with others.

There is also a change in diet during this time of year where we eat more sugar and starch. Our bodies respond as they are supposed to, with this onslaught of food, through intense stimulation followed by an emotional crash. Again, we replicate, to a much smaller degree, the effects of alcohol and drugs. This cycle may take many people closer to the urges and cravings associated with drugs and alcohol use.

So, the questions is, how do we help ourselves or our loved ones be safe during the holidays?
Here are a few tips:

· Keep as close to a normal schedule as possible. Don’t skip meetings or appointments that have to do with your sobriety.

· Maintain a healthy diet. Enjoy some treats, but don’t overindulge on snacks and candy.

· Attempt to keep expectations for the holidays realistic. Communicate with family and friends about what to expect in terms of visits and other holiday interactions.

· Focus on what you control. Remember that your thoughts and actions are all that you have control over, so focus on that.

Happy Holidays to everyone and may the New Year be a happy one!

Bugs and Teen girls – An Unlikely Match Part 2

Friday, 6 December, 2013


Part 2 – ( Bugs and Teen Girls ) Discovery Academy teen students share their thoughts on their moment with nature and the boarding school campus!
Read Part 1 Here

“I’ve come to notice that when your life is extremely simplified, even small decisions or tasks strike a long thought process.” -two of our favorite DA students

By Two of Our Favorite DA Students!

I’ve come to notice that when your life is extremely simplified, even small decisions or tasks strike a long thought process. With that, let me bring you into the life of a treatment center kid – or rather a particular scene of it.

Once upon a sunny day in Utah, my friend and I, who we will call Georgia, were contemplating which section of our “yard” to sit in. This looked like we were someone with amnesia attempting to pace, never knowing which way we were coming or going, just jumping around aimlessly. Maybe we were just looking for something to do, and maybe that’s why we became so intrigued by this gnarly looking praying mantis.

Georgia saw him first and when she swooped down to pick him up we discovered this obscure looking bug had wings! Of course, we quickly reached some level of excitement, almost to the point of making a scene. Praying-Mantis-eyes At last we captured this poor soul on a leaf and this is where our friend Steve entered the picture. I was holding Pot Belly Pig (that’s what we named him) to Georgia’s face because any bug is creepy when you are staring directly into their beady-black-eyes. Then, being the generous people we are of course, when stranger-Steve walks by holding no sort of insect, we offer up ours! Disappointingly enough though, he wasn’t squeamish towards what we he told us was a Praying Mantis, but he was wearing my wilderness jacket so we accepted him as a person because he could no longer be a victim!

Not going to lie, Pot Belly Pig was not the first and isn’t to be the last living species to crawl onto our campus and be forced to accept our love. And, as the newest member our our community we decided he needed a tour of the campus – which pretty much consisted of us walking around talking about our new lives with Pot Belly Pig and deciding where to sit. During this, we then came across a – I shouldn’t say – “prissy” therapist who we will call Oval. We FOR SURE thought Oval would squirm or scream but no, no, no…rather we had a quite interesting conversation on what brought Pot Belly Pig to us and what his life was like. We all agreed he was a Veteran and probably served in the Garden, but then honorably discharged when he was damaged by a tomato bomb. (Conditions: broken antenna and a perma case of the “stink-eye”. I thought since he probably had PTSD, Oval should take him on as a client. She felt that Pot Belly Pig would do better with a Praying Mantis therapist ’cause they could “relate better” … cop out!

Now at this point of my story…my point is the end, while finishing the tour, we came at last to a group of squeamish boys. Too easy of a target! The natural reaction was to transform our new friend into a bomb and launch him into their circle. Ah yes, we finally got the reaction necessary and all it took was a little sacrifice on Pot Belly’s behalf. Georgia and I then left that commotion, and our Pig, to proceed in finding the perfect place to sit.

…I must say, the weirdest part of the whole ordeal though, was being asked to write about it!

Back to Part one of this two part series!

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