SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – During the month of May, ABC4 News is featuring different IN FOCUS discussions in observance of Mental Health Awareness Month. There is a wide range of therapy and treatment available to help maintain one’s emotional and mental well-being. Tuesday’s segment features a local program that incorporates equine therapy into the classroom for young students and explores the unique way horses can provide emotional support and skills to humans.

The program’s name is Youth Edification Equine Human Association and Alliance or YEEHAAA for short. Instead of being an individual class that students can enroll in, YEEHAAA is incorporated in the curriculum of multiple classes at the Salt Lake Center for Science Education (SLCSE). Additionally, the program brings social awareness, change, and diversity into the forefront for students to stop bullying in schools.

Ella Matheson, a student at SLCSE and participant of YEEHAAA, joins ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen to share how she found out about the program, what led to her decision to enroll, how it helped her deal with anxiety, the skills she developed that can be applied beyond the classroom, how it impacted her life, and what she would say to other students who are considering the program.

Britnie Powell, principal of SLCSE, and Caron Hunter, founder and president of YEEHAAA, discuss how the program was started, how SLCSE became involved, the difference between traditional and equine therapy, what students learn in the program, how the school climate interacts with YEEHAAA, and how school credit is applied.

In part two of the discussion with Powell and Hunter, they talk about how bullying and suicide prevention is intertwined with developing personal growth, whether there’s been efforts to get YEEHAAA into other schools, the impact they’ve seen on students participating in the program, and how a parent or student attending a different school can be part of YEEHAAA.

To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Matheson, Powell, and Hunter, click on the video at the top of the article.

Catch IN FOCUS discussions with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen weeknights on the CW30 News at 7 p.m.

Rosie Nguyen is an award-winning journalist who joined the ABC4 News team as a reporter in January 2018. In September 2020, she embarked on a new journey as the anchor for the CW30 News at 7 p.m. Although she’s not out in the field anymore, she is continuing her passion for social justice and community issues through the nightly “In Focus” discussions.