Four world-class ultra cyclists known as the Soaring Coots have come together to raise awareness of the mental health challenges facing youth today, the healing work of wilderness therapy and to raise funds for Sky’s the Limit Fund (STLF). Therapeutic Wilderness programs exist to provide a rich, intensive, clinically-proven therapeutic experience for a child and their family struggling with mental health and addiction, providing tools to get better. However, this level of care is costly, and beyond the reach of many families. STLF provides much needed financial support to families in need while their partner wilderness programs match their funding with a reduction in tuition.
During these crazy Covid-19 times, The Soaring Coots have found a unique way to pay it forward and help youth in crisis continue to get the support of wilderness therapy so many of them desperately need. Each of the riders has their own story to tell, facing mental health challenges in their own families. Riding has become their platform to make a difference. They are now well on their way to their goal of winning the Mountain West ultra cup and raising $50,000 to help transform the lives of youth in crisis.
The team crushed the first race of the three race Mountain West series in July – Race Across Oregon. They won the race and set a new course record. Coming up quickly now are the final two races of the series:
Hoo Doo 500 (August 29-30): 500 Miles, targeting sub 24 hours (the current overall team record.) – Riding out of St George Utah, this course has a very fast record and elevations as high as 9,000 feet – three of the Soaring Coots live at sea level! It will take everything they have to both win and attempt to beat the speed set by a much younger team.
Silver State 508 (Sept 18-20): 508 miles, targeting sub 25 hours. A 508 mile route across Nevada. – This is a fast course record to attempt on a course with huge temperature changes and a lot of climbing.
Mark and Shane are both solo winners of this race (2018 and 2019 respectively). For Paul and Yann it will be their first time. Each rider will have to be on their best form to make this happen. The team acknowledges that as hard as it can get for them during their races, it is nothing compared to what young people are facing when they get to the wilderness and start their healing journey.
Hard work, dedication and commitment is the commonality.
If you would like to cheer the Soaring Coots on during their adventure, learn more about them individually & DONATE to help break the barrier of cost for wilderness therapy:
Hillside® offers treatment for youths who have struggled with primary psychiatric disorders. Based in Atlanta, we provide psychiatric and therapeutic care for all gender clients, ages 5-25, in our residential, day, and intensive in-home therapy programs.
The first, and still only, residential program to become a Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)-Linehan Board of Certification, Certified Program™ in the nation, Hillside’s clinicians are trained in DBT for Children, DBT Prolong-Exposure Protocol, Radically Opened DBT, and DBT-PTSD.
Hillside stays on the forefront of treatment through partnerships with several universities. We are proud of our strong clinical program and our effort to meet the challenge of make quality treatment accessible. We recently launched the Hillside Atlanta Foundation to help fund scholarships for treatment, training, and research in behavioral health.
When the Coronavirus thwarted the Glenholme School’s plan to create a sensory room, the school’s clinicians had to think fast and pivot. The space reserved for this purpose was needed for social distancing. The Glenholme School is a 52 year old co-ed therapeutic boarding school for students 10-21 years old with learning disabilities, high functioning autism, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and other learning challenges and mood disorders.
Children who are gifted and those with ADHD, and Autism have a prevalence of sensory processing difficultythat is much higher than in the general population. They may be unable to modulate their activity level, and their level of excitement. For example, noises may hurt their ears and bright lights may really disturb them.
Sensory processing refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into responses. For those with difficulty processing sensory information, sensory information goes into the nervous system but does not get interpreted accurately for appropriate responses.
Senses are the first things that a baby experiences. They form the foundation for interpreting the world. The brain processes sensory information before any other input, like language. Deep touch and pressure such as swaddling a baby is calming to the infant. Watching a mobile offers stimulating sensory input. Other kinds of sensory input provides a centering or focusing result.
One area occupational therapists work with children on are sensory issues. They teach them how to soothe themselves and how to help them manage responses to sensory input.
The Clinical Director, Movement/Dance Therapist, OT and one of the social workers at the Glenholme School have been working to infuse the school with methods to help students calm their bodies when excited, center themselves and energize themselves, using ordinary supplies that might be outdoors on campus or inside the cottages in the kitchens. They are putting together a syllabus, and training manual to teach the boarding staff how to lead the youngsters through different somatic and sensory exercises. Many of these activities are ones that the residential staff already do with students, but may not have had the conceptual framework in which to place these activities.
Bike riding, playing on swings, balance activities on logs or curbs, hiking with a purpose, like “ABC hiking,” twister, climbing trees, tumbling, making slime, or baking bread and cookies are all examples of everyday activities that provide sensory input.
Staff have conducted these activities routinely, and may be intuitively aware that students become engaged in these activities. They are now being taught on a conceptual level which activities should be used when, and how these activities evoke which type of response: calming, energizing, or centering.
Kudos to the adaptability of the clinical and residential staff at the Glenholme School for turning around a difficult situation in a way that benefits the students.