Friday, November 29, 2013

Spotlight on Jacob Auna, a new therapist at Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Boarding School

Recently, Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Boarding School added a new therapist to the staff, Jacob Auna.  One of our students interviewed him for a spotlight article that recently appeared in the fall issue of Cedar Spectrum newsletter.  We have reprinted this spotlight here for you and welcome Jacob to our Cedar Ridge family.

What is your favorite thing to do (as a past time)?
My favorite thing to do is to go to the beach: playing in the water, surfing, body boarding, or any other type of water sport.

What prompted you to want to want to become a therapist?
I wanted to become a therapist as I was going through the Master in Social Work at BYU. I wanted to help others on a different level. Mainly I wanted to be able to help other to improve their quality of life.

Why did you want to work at Cedar Ridge Academy?
When I came for my interview, I was greatly impressed with how clean and neat the facility was here. I also was drawn to being able to do therapy in an environment that we have here at Cedar Ridge. I also wanted to instill qualities and lessons in students through activities, experientials, nature, hard work, and sports.

What is your favorite part of working at Cedar Ridge Academy?
My favorite part of working at Cedar Ridge is being able to work with the students both in individual and group therapy. Also I love being able to have the opportunity to help them in a totally different environment. I also greatly enjoy using volleyball as a way to teach and coach life lessons.

What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of having 3 children and being a father to them. Having my own family and helping my kids understand my love for them and me always being there for them is something that I greatly take pride in daily.

What is your meaning/purpose of life?
            My meaning of life is based off a great quote, “The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.” -Robert Nesta Marley

What are 5 things that you want to be before you die?
            1. Establish an orphanage for children in the Philippines.
            2. Break a world record.
            3. Write a children's book and publish it.
            4. Learn how to play the piano.
            5. Catch a fish with my bare hands.

Jacob pauses for a moment to make a goofy pose!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Daily Life of the Aspen Home at Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Boarding School

For those of you that don’t know, there are three homes currently in use here at Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Boarding School. There are the two boys homes, Aspen and Redwood, and the girls home, the Ombu. The Aspen has usually been and continues to be the largest home, with 16 boys currently in it and the most sleeping/living space available. 

The boys love to play basketball!
At the beginning of the day, we wake up and get our chores done, and get prepared for whatever lies ahead that day, usually karate or sports. Then we go to the home and get some breakfast in the cafeteria before we head to school for a large part of the day. Once we get to the school we’re there from 8:00 to 12:00 and usually will be in there for 2-3 hours for schoolwork due to sports scheduled or phone calls with parents. At 12:00 the girls go eat lunch, so the boys can go back to the home to change and get prepared for the second half of the day. Some people write quick emails, while others work on trigger sheets (one of the key components of the program here) and the rest will just sit around after changing and wait to leave for lunch. Then we head to the cafeteria for lunch for half an hour then head back to school from 1:00 to 3:00. This period of time is focused entirely on school, since there’s no P.E time to distract the kids. 

Often the boys will play Frisbee
as part of their experientials 
From 3:00 to 4:30 Mondays-Thursdays we have groups, trigger sheet families on Mondays and Wednesdays, and small groups (which are different for every student) on Tuesdays and Thursdays. When these are over we get started on showers and chores and just chill out until dinner at 5:30. After that we will either go up to MASSH (extra school time) or to the gym for basketball or some other sport, and this is the same for Mondays to Thursdays every week. Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays are our kick back and hang out days, where we sit around for most of the days, after the work we have on the weekends is done.  With having a big home there are always activities like playing games, reading a book or magazine, talking to people and having fun. Overall, as a home we try to work together to get our home moving in the right direction.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Student Workshop for September at Cedar Ridge Academy International Private Therapeutic Boarding School

Each month, Cedar Ridge Academy International Private Therapeutic Boarding School has a workshop. This past September, we had a student workshop that allowed students to be able to explore different therapy ideas, work in co-ed groups, and practice mediation. Two students worked together to write this summary of how the day went for them.
One of our therapists instructs the group 
For student workshop this September, we had a day of groups focusing on the importance of teamwork and how to concentrate on positive motivations. The whole campus, including the teachers, gathered in the dome Monday morning to hear from the therapists. Rob, director of the program and main therapist for the girls, started the day with some basics of the program. He spoke about mindfulness, the practice of being aware to what is going on around you and with yourself, and focusing your mind on the here and now. He also discussed the process and concept of desensitization that he teaches the students to do here. The process includes exposing yourself to uncomfortable feelings and fears and sitting with those feelings to become more comfortable and accepting of them. A good, practical example of this process is for someone who is afraid of heights to climb up steps on a ladder everyday to an uncomfortable height and sit there. Over the days, this will become less scary and they will eventually be able to climb the ladder. He explained how many of us run from feeling of not being good enough, not being accepted, or not being in control of a situation. Many of us have developed destructive habits to run from these feelings or to ignore them. The main idea of the program teaches us to get use to those feelings and find ways to positively cope with them and accept them.

Following Rob’s speech on the nuts and bolts of Cedar Ridge was therapist Brent’s activity. He broke up the campus into three groups, each with a group leader. The leader chose two random members of the team to go and write a team chant with them. While they brainstormed their chant, the rest of the students participated in a guided mediation. We all practiced straight body posture and focusing on our breathing. Afterwords, we each performed the group chant and were judged by the teachers on creativity, group participation, meaning, and leadership.

Therapists play a role in coaching students 
After this group activity, Brent gathered us all together and asked us all one question: “What motivates you to work on yourself?” Many students provided answers and we created a white board full of motivation. Everything from the obvious “I want to go home” to a good college experience, sober relationships, and to rebuild family relationships were included on the list. He then polled us on how many of us were motivated by what and guided us in another meditation; this time to concentrate our minds onto our positive visions for our futures. We ended by lying down on the floor of the dome and spent the last ten minutes of our morning envisioning our motivation come true.

Another activity we did for student workshop was geocaching. For this activity we all got into groups that were the people from our homes and we had a staff that had a compass on their phones and each group had a different colored ball that they had to find. We would use the compass and the coordinates that we were given and worked as a team to find the balls out in the desert around campus.

Working together as a group, students pause to ask a therapist a question

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