spiritual retreat center education

Grady's Program -Girls Responding Assertively to Defining years

A program of leadership and spiritual development for girls ages 10-18 years.

Coming of age in a culture that works hard to define falsely who they are, adolescent girls live in an environment that is soaked with casual violence, unrealistic body images, and the perception that money brings meaning and personal fulfillment.

At just the time when parents want to offer comfort, strength and hope, their daughters move away from them and into a confusing maelstrom of conflicting messages and values. For these girls, everything is changing quickly and drastically.

GRADY's -girls Responding Assertively to Defining Years -Program is a week to four week long event designed for girls ages 10 -18 years. Grady's Program is about leadership development, building self-confidence and acquiring a sense of personal assuredness. The program is also about spiritual development emphasizing the building of community with an interdependence that values each one's strengths and gifts while affirming the needs and fears of each person. The program is not grounded in any one religious background but affirms the budding and developing creative spirit of the young gir1 turning adolescent as a gift of the Creator of all that is, was and will be.

GRADY's Program includes experiential awareness, education and growth, with its emphasis on girls who are experiencing the bewildering, tumultuous changes in their relationships, their bodies and their perceptions of the world. These are the developing young women who are secretive with adults and full of apparent contradictions -often desperate to please others and seemingly powerless to do so. They can be simultaneously submissive and aggressive, loving and critical, energetic and lethargic.

GRADY's Program is not therapy, however, it uses horses to reach and teach participants based on the tenets of hippotherapy. Hipopotherapy is education and development -physical, emotional and spiritual -with the help of the horse, derived from the Greek word "hippos" meaning horse. Hippotherapy and equine facilitated learning (EFL) are well known and respected disciplines.

The Equine Facilitated Mental Health Association, a special interest section of the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association, has defined Equine Facilitated Learning as "learning about yourself through your interaction and relationship with your environment including the people, animals, nature and situations therein." EFL emphasizes the interactive nature of the participant's emotional, mental, social, physical and spiritual well-being. EFL promotes personal exploration and community affirmation of feelings and behaviors but does not seek to interpret them. EFL can promote healing and growth through:

-improving self-esteem and self-awareness
-developing trust in a safe and supportive environment
-providing social skills training
-encouraging sensory stimulation and integration
-combining body awareness exercises with verbal communication
-developing choice-making and goal-setting skills
-developing sequencing and problem solving skills
-encouraging self-responsibility and promoting pro-social attitudes through care-giving experiences.

GRADY's Program is NOT "riding lessons" or "horseback riding camp" although the girls will learn much about horses and will participate in riding the horse based on the level of knowledge and readiness deemed by the adult mentors. GRADY's Program is an in-depth team experience that involves the participant gir1, the adult mentors and the horse as equal partners. GRADY's Program is about relationships -with the horse, with the community and with the self. The program helps facilitate knowledge of self with the horse as compassionate teacher. The mentors are well trained, safety conscious, experienced both in education and in horsemanship and dedicated to enriching the lives of participants with self discoveries, new skills and increased awareness.

Participation in GRADY's Program is limited to girls ages 10-18 years. Riding experience or prior experience with horses is NOT required and actually may be a hindrance. Nearly every adolescent gir1 can find remarkable benefits in GRADY's Program. For safety reasons, a pre-admission interview (by telephone or email) is required and the professional staff reserves the right to determine the suitability of individual applicants.

Please call or email for more information.

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