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• P A R E N T  W E E K E N D 

Quarterly Parent Weekend Featured Lakeside Activities and More

"This was by far my favorite graduation ceremony," said Sarah Bublitz, the activities coordinator during WRA's second-quarter Parent Weekend, held on July 14 to 17.

Parent_Weekend_Image_new1.jpgThe weekend was a fun and memorable time filled with tears of pride and longing. WRA staff admired a great turnout, including a few first-time families.

Thursday kicked off with the mix-and-mingle, which was full of familiar faces and shared optimism and interest in the growth of each family's student.

In one of the entertaining activities on Friday, equine therapist Corrine Day and the equine group had students guiding calves through an obstacle course with the help of select family members and other students.

Also on Friday, resident psychologist "Doc Dan" Sanderson conducted a lecture called "Developmental Vacation," wherein he deconstructed reactive attachment disorders. Later, the group headed out to the Gunnison Bend Reservoir to have some fun. There was a dunk tank, water tug-of-war, and a barrel water challenge.

Saturday, Doc Dan led an African drum circle, and families later partook in a delicious Hawaiian meal by our new and versatile Chef Robyn Prows. Attendees enjoyed a Polynesian culture show replete with fire dancing, a Hakka and much more!

Sunday wound down with individual families getting a chance to have much-needed quality time.

Three graduates celebrated

Dallin M. graduated from White River Academy residential treatment and is returning back home to California, where he was accepted into the College of Southern California. There, he has a fantastic opportunity to receive his high school diploma and associate's degree concurrently! He will also be volunteering in a California-based equine therapy. He's credited parent liaison KaeLene Marsden with helping him discover his career path and plans to work in metaphysical therapy.

Hunter L. was celebrated for both completing WRA treatment program and graduating high school. He also plans to return home to California and pursue a degree in business administration from Orange Coast College. Larson will keep up the servant-leadership learned from WRA as an AA sponsor and volunteer for a Southern California outpatient treatment group.

M E D I C A L  N E W S

child.jpgWhen Childhood Adversity Leads to Mental Illness

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Georgia State University have uncovered the neurological impact of early childhood stress on the human brain. From these results, it may be possible to determine why some individuals who are exposed to these stressors later go on to develop mental health problems. READ MORE

C L I N I C A L  N E W S •

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Is Stress Contagious: The Impact of Work-Related Stress

Just as we might imitate another person's smile, frown or yawn (e.g., the phenomenon of "contagious yawning"), our brains are hardwired to empathize with others' pain and stress. In the brain, specialized neurons, known as mirror neurons, are responsible for our ability to recognize others' facial and emotional expressions, which is important for our ability to perceive and empathize with others. READ MORE

• F E A T U R E  N E W S •

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New Study Suggests That Texting Alters Daily  Brainwave Rhythm

There is a specter haunting humanity, and that specter is phubbing. Phubbing is the act of staring at a smartphone to the exclusion of everything and everyone else. An extension of phubbing is cell phone distracted walking. The National Safety Council notes cell phone distracted walking accounted for over 11,000 injuries between 2000 and 2011. READ MORE


Book Review: When it's do or die:
Learning About 'Negotiating the Nonnegotiable'

Almost everyone has been there. You and another person have to resolve a conflict, be it in business or in your personal life. However, the problem doesn't appear to be one that you both can solve. Whatever it is, you just can't find a solution to the problem.

So how does one negotiate the seemingly unnegotiable? Whenever this situation arises, one can be sure that having the skills to overcome unsolvable conflicts like these will be extremely valuable. That is where Daniel Shapiro's book comes in. Shapiro is here to help readers learn how to solve these problems using 20 years of research to show people how to change the way they look at relationships, improve how they deal with people and help them reach stronger agreements. READ MORE

• P A R E N T  T E S T I M O N I A L S •


photo_New.jpgAnne R. Discusses her Son's Journey From
Depression and Substance use
Anne R. is driving alone on a long back road in Utah, away from White River Academy. She insists that it’s the perfect time to talk about her son Sam, his recovery road and how WRA positively changed his path. After all, she’s just picked up her son’s box of personal belongings and has a cross-country trek homeREAD MORE

• F R O M  T H E   A R C H I V E S •
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3_idiot.jpg6 Therapeutic Tolls Ease Back-to-School Jitters For Students With Mental IIIness

For adolescents with a mental health disorder, going back to school in the fall can be an anxiety-inducing experience. Thankfully, the Therapy Shoppe has come to the rescue.

The Therapy Shoppe is an online store that provides parents, therapists, children and adolescents with hundreds of products specifically designed to foster comfort and concentration. READ MORE

• F E A T U R E D  E M P L O Y E E •
Featuring: Renee Whitaker 
Location: White River Academy, Delta, Utah 
Department: Human Resources 
Position: Auditor 

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Renee Whitaker is officially the auditor at WRA, in charge of quality assurance administrative audits. But like many among the busy-bee, familial staff, she does so much more on campus and in the Delta community. 

To sum her up in a phrase, she's a forerunner in the "village" they say it takes to raise a child, or in this case rehabilitate a young man. Whitaker's WRA story begins where she thought her career ended.

A new beginning

In 2010 Whitaker culminated a 15-year career with a major bank in California. Life was fast-paced, and she was looking forward to retiring in the great plains of Utah.

However, a series of seemingly innocuous yet serendipitous events led her from church service pews to a seat in Justin Nielson's office. She was offered a part time job to keep one foot in retirement.

She knows the students in residential treatment by name and story. Although she's officially on the Human Resources end of staff and doesn't work with the young men directly, she wholeheartedly enjoys keeping an ear to the pavement for neighborhood opportunities to pass on for the boys' integral service projects.

More than her title

"I've contributed two or three ideas that end up being used by the boys. For example, we recently had a family whose house burned down. I suggested we give them assistance. Not all the project ideas get used, but you feel so good when you're able to help people, the boys and the community. If I can see an opportunity where students can grow and provide service, I can share it."

Positively demure, Whitaker says she's not teaching or counseling, but she participates in leadership meetings and learns about the boys; she gets to know the parents and gives what she can: support.

"We all help out with Parent Weekend, which is always a lot of fun. I get to encourage and support the families of our boys."

She says the assistance is mutual. Some of the students have even taken on to help Whitaker and her husband by mowing their lawn. She explains her husband - a former WRA staffer - lost his leg within the past year and can no longer landscape that way. "Some of these young men have never mowed a lawn before, so they help us, and we're able to impart some life skills. It's fulfilling on both sides."

What inspires Renee to help others

Whitaker says it's the WRA staff members who inspire her. "Coming from a long career in the corporate setting, I've never had this kind of staff harmony before. I've never worked with youth and been aligned with a company that's turning lives around. I love the staff and care for our young men. Students see the staff in unity, and it impacts them; they can see that."

When asked her professional and personal goals, Renee Whitaker's reply in itself is a testament to her humility and heart.

"Professionally, I want to become more familiar with the insurance process. If I can learn more, I can help more families get smooth health care coverage. I also want to learn a third language in addition to Modern Hebrew: I want to learn Spanish.

"Personally, I aspire to get my new kidney. When I collaborate with other companies or talk to parents, most don't know I survived cancer but lost my kidney to it. I have stage 5 kidney failure; I want to stay healthy and receive my kidney transplant.

If it takes a village to raise a child, pray the children and the village can praise a giver like Renee Whitaker.

• FACILITY UPDATES AND STUDENT ACTIVITIES •

 Facility updates: WRA has achieved recognition for becoming a National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs research-designated program.

Student activities: A small group of students who did not have parents attending parent weekend and who are in good standing were treated to the driving range at the golf course Saturday.  One student hit a 250-yard drive!

Instructor of the year: July's Instructor of the Month is Steve Brown, who has also been selected as White River Academy's 2016 Instructor of the Year! Brown is the language arts and social studies teacher at WRA. He's a published poet and holds his bachelor's degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing and a minor in history from Southern Utah University. 

• S T A F F  A D D I T I O N S

White River Academy welcomes Kim Cropper as Part-Time Support Staff.

White River Academy welcomes Cristy McNeely as Support Staff.

White River Academy welcomes Juan Carlos as Full-Time Maintenance.

White River Academy welcomes Roby Prows as Head Chef. 

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