B E H A V I O R A L  H E A L T H  N E W S 

Kristin_newsletter_WRA_Fall_Parent_Weekend_20161010_WS.jpgFall Parent Weekend: “Facing Our Giants”

This fall's parent weekend jumped off Thursday evening with a jamming Zumba workout in lieu of the regular mix and mingle.

On Friday morning, parents and older siblings joined White River students for a breakfast and orientation with Daniel "Doc Dan" Sanderson, Ph.D. He spoke of ground rules, the developmental vacation and reactive attachment disorder.

During his lecture, younger siblings carved pumpkins, made caramel apples, enjoyed a hula hoop competition and a few other activities as well. After lunch, the families and students went to the theaters to watch “Facing the Giants,” an uplifting movie about overcoming obstacles.

On Saturday, the families attended a seminar with Doc Dan. More activities for siblings on site ensued such as Halloween bingo and decorating cupcakes and masks. Lunch was served in the delightfully autumnal Oak City Canyon, followed by motivational speaker Clay Egan.

Egan became quadriplegic after being involved in a motorcycle collision. He gave real insight into how to keep going in life when the odds are stacked against you and how he has faced his giants.

All eyes on him

This parent weekend, WRA celebrated one graduate: 16-year-old Donovan W., who graduated the program Saturday after being a student and resident at White River Academy for more than a year. "Donny" was able to get ahead in his school credits at WRA and plans to continue his senior year of high school online while back home in California.

Donny and his parents traveled back for the graduation, as he had returned to California late September. "I kept thinking I was on a home visit, like I was supposed to be at WRA. It felt kinda weird at first, now I'm settling in. I like being at my house." He adds he would have been totally done for without White River Academy's help. "I got reacquainted with learning outside of the [prior] drama."

  • Read more on Donny W.'s story by clicking here.

Sunday was a family day until 4 p.m. where the families got to spend time alone with their sons. A majority of WRA students attended church with their families, while others hung out at the facility and played games.

Thanks to the new parent weekend event planner

Kudos to Parent Liaison Ms. Jamie for assuming responsibility of planning and coordinating Parent Weekend. White River Academy staff would like to extend a huge thank you to Ms. Jamie for her hard work in making this Parent Weekend amazing for all who participated!

 M E D I C A L  N E W S


FDA Approves Two New Tests to Diagnose Traumatic Brain Injuries

Concussions are extremely common sports-related injuries that can affect anyone who plays a high contact sport such as football, hockey or soccer. An estimated 1.1 to 1.9 million children ages 18 years old or younger experience sports- and recreation-related concussions in the United States each year. READ MORE

 C L I N I C A L  N E W S

Parental Mental Illness Can Predict
Illness in ChildrenParental-mental-illness-can-predict-illness-in-children_copy.jpg

It’s a common question when people hear about a child who attempted suicide or acted violently against a classmate. Was it the media? Video games? Upbringing?

Although there are many causes that can potentially cause children to become violent (either against themselves or others), a new study from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom seems to show that the psychiatric disorders of parents are associated with both violent behavior and suicide in their children. READ MORE

Serotonin-the-happy-neurotransmitter-may-not-make-us-so-happy_copy.jpgSerotonin, the ‘Happy’ Neurotransmitter,
May Not Make Us So Happy

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter located in the brain that is derived from the amino acid tryptophan. Over the years, serotonin has been referred to as the happy neurotransmitter because it is known to have a pivotal role in the reward pathway in the brain, resulting in all those feel-good motions. In fact, drug addiction is so hard to overcome because of the rush of serotonin from the instant activation of the addiction circuit in the human brain. READ MORE

• F E A T U R E  N E W S •

Scary Stories May Be Good For ChildrenScary-stories-may-be-good-for-children.jpg

Halloween is nearly upon us. Jack-o-lanterns grin from atop porches. Cardboard witches and skeletons dangle from doorways. Fake spider webs hang between tree branches, sometimes adorned with their very own plastic arachnid – or two.

During this spooky season, children may feel frightened, gleeful or both. READ MORE

Changing-the-way-we-perceive-teens-to-tap-into-The-Power-of-the-Adolescent-Brain_copy.jpgBook Review: Changing the Way We Perceive Teens to Tap into ‘The Power of the Adolescent Brain’

What do adults see when they look at teenagers? Maybe they see the similarity the children have to their parents. Maybe they see blooming human beings learning to be themselves. Maybe they see a buzzing hive of hormones and obstinacy.

But do they see power? The truth is that teenagers are full of opportunity, dreams and power. It doesn’t mean that they are always right, but they do have a great deal of potential to be great, if given the chance.

What if people worked toward recasting common teen traits such as impracticality, insecurity or recklessness as idealism, creativity or boldness? Perhaps this practice would enable teens to tap into their own power and make a positive impact on the world. READ MORE

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

Angela W. reflects on her son Donny’sAngela-reflects-on-her-son-Donovan-W.s-fruitful-harvest-at-White-1River-Academy.jpg
fruitful harvest at White River Academy

This harvest season is the perfect time to discuss 16-year old Donovan W.’s story. We spoke to his mother, Angela, and Donny himself about mom and dad’s toil, the series of events that seemed set to spoil his thriving and the priceless seeds White River Academy planted and cultivated to bring about his harvest homecoming. READ MORE

• F R O M  T H E  A R C H I V E S •

Beyond the Mask: Signs that RevealBeyondtheMask_copy1.jpg
Mental Illness in Teens

For a teenager, life can be overwhelming. Hormones are changing. Childhood is giving way to adulthood. It’s no wonder, then, that teenagers sometimes suffer from mood swings and sleep a little more — or a little less — than usual. READ MORE

• F E A T U R E D  E M P L O Y E E •

Featuring: Gary Porter
Location: White River Academy, Delta, Utah
Department: Support Staff
Position: Shift Manager

Kristin_newsletter_WRA_featured_employee_Gary_Porter_20160907_WS_copy.jpgGary Porter joined the White River Academy team seven years ago with 25 years of hard-won, first-hand grit in his belt carved from generations of experience in farming and a passed-down passion for wrestling. The parallels incorporated from wrestling into life and treatment for WRA's young men help to tell his story.

The groom check gift

The groom check is where officials visually inspect a wrestler before competition, screening for risks. Similarly, Porter says, "I know kids. I've been coaching young men for years. I have a knack for knowing where they are mentally, physically – if they have a skewed look on what life will be."

He says this gift of discernment was also his father's, who was a wrestling coach in Utah. Porter describes Utah as a successful capital for wrestling, especially if you understand the region's history.

"Contact sports are so successful here because it goes with 'the grind.' My grandfather was one of the first to settle Delta, Utah; he and my father were farmers. …We're a hard-nose bunch, and like many in the area, knowing how to farm and wrestling are a natural fit." Porter says that he and his wife Cindy, a fellow WRA staff member, grew up with this wisdom and bring it to the treatment industry.

He oversees staff members and works directly with the boys, offering life coaching, discipline approaches and guidance through a weightlifting program he started at White River Academy.

The meatgrinder

This wrestling term describes an extremely tough tournament full of very skilled wrestlers. Porter draws a comparison from the mettle it takes for wrestling and the grind of life.

"I teach the boys that, to be honest, life's tough most of the time. It's a grind. … You have to put yourself in a position to see help when it's offered and then go for it, but this takes 100 percent commitment.

"Substance abuse is no joke, and genetic predisposition is real, but everybody has a sad story to tell, and only with real intent and self-discipline will one be successful at overcoming any addiction; a more difficult past just means your hard work to overcome it will reap greater satisfaction."

The neck bridge and duckwalk

The former technique is where a wrestler puts his back into the motion and uses his head to support his weight. The latter describes repeatedly practicing the penetration step.

Porter says he often hears the word "quit" with the students in various activities, but it doesn't sway him.

"I'll have them load 110-pound hay bales on a trailer, or they'll want to join the weightlifting program with little understanding of the consistency it requires. I don't coddle, otherwise you take on their baggage. You've got to remember some of these kids have been quitting their whole lives thus far.

"Where it gets to be fulfilling is when you stand firm and see the few that really want it." Porter says they end up pairing their physical intent with the mental decision to press beyond what they think they can do.

Gassed, but going for the reversal

Gassed describes a wrestler's depletion of energy and a reversal is when a bottom wrestler suddenly escapes, and flips the script using a mirrored technique. The two illustrate one of Porter's motivational sayings: "When life sucks sufficiently, then changes will be made."

He explains his weight lifting program as an ideal microcosm of the real world and a tool to move beyond personal struggles.

"Weight lifting is about linear progression and consistency. I really love to get to the point where they get to a weight they 'can't lift.'" He describes a pure, glorious high unlike any they've ever experienced. "That feeling of triumph really helps them with life after WRA, they learn what it takes to really confront something hard like the weight and how that translates into real life struggles."

What inspires Gary to help others

Porter's enthusiasm is palpable. He says he doesn't have to roll his eyes as he goes into the office; he loves his job. After learning his background, and listening to him attribute his faith as what inspires him to help others, it becomes evident that Gary Porter embodies faith in action.

 F A C I L I T Y  U P D A T E S  &  S T U D E N T  A C T I V I T I E S 

Students volunteered at the 20th annual Old Capital Arts and Living History Festival on September 10, with musical groups, poetry, hoop dancing and pioneer games as well as food and shopping booths.

Student Donny W. finished his large service of creating a bike rack for the Athenian eAcademy, a local tech elementary school. He carefully sanded, welded and painted it, then presented it to the school.

Four students volunteered at the West Millard Care Center, where they participated in games with the senior residents. The students have developed positive relationships with many residents, some of whom receive no other visitors.

 S T A F F  A D D I T I O N S 

WRA welcomes Ms. Sharon Roper as our new Assistant Chef.

WRA welcomes Mr. Suede Johnson as Weekend Overnight Staff.

White River Academy welcomes Ms. Stacey Dean as our Administrative Assistant.

 A  N O T E  F R O M  T H E  M A N A G I N G  E D I T O R 

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