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ABOUT THE PROGRAM

Our Mission

To develop, deepen, and demonstrate learning through service.

Where Service and Learning Come Together

Reaching for the Reins (affectionately referred to as "R4R" by students and volunteers) is a Service Learning program. It uses horse-related activities to promote educational growth and learning. It is a collaborative, student-centered effort between Cedar Lane Alternative High School, Lighthouse Education Center and Circle "C" Stable. Started in 2007, Reaching for the Reins developed out of the vision of Tara Carlsen, a Mathematics Teacher at Cedar Lane Alternative High School. Tara realized after teaching at-risk teens for two years that they needed more than what she and her colleagues were able to offer within the brick walls of a classroom. Understanding they also needed to build their employability skills, communication and teamwork and most of all, their self-esteem and connections to the community, the idea of establishing a program to promote this was conceived. The program format is built around service-learning with the collective goal of assisting students in developing a positive self image. It also focuses on providing them the necessary tools to make a difference in their communities, encouraging them to try new things, and enabling them to be successful. Additionally the program helps participants to build positive relationships with their mentors and peers. To accomplish these goals the program is divided into two phases.

Phase 1

During the first phase, the goal is for Cedar Lane students to learn the skills necessary to run a riding program for students from Lighthouse. In order to prepare them for this task they spend 10 weeks at the farm learning life and horse skills in three different ways. First they do maintenance projects that build teamwork and teach them about the pride that comes from working with your own hands. Next they work closely with community volunteer mentors who teach them about the horses and how to saddle and ride. For the final part they participate in Equine Assisted Learning Activities that give them life skills and tools that bring them together as a team.

Phase 2

During the second phase of the program, Cedar Lane students build positive mentoring relationships with students with special needs from Lighthouse Education Center, teaching them what they've learned about the farm and horses.