Spring Semester is in full swing at Rainbow Acres’ adult community in Arizona!
At Rainbow Acres, we take seriously our commitment to provide residents with new experiences and ongoing learning opportunities. These opportunities improve cognitive abilities, strengthen social skills, and increase overall quality of life. They spark curiosity and help maintain brain health.
When setting up our semester schedule, our diverse and widely trained Academy staff strive to create learning experiences that meet two criteria.
First, do these classes provide an opportunity for a Rancher to meet an individual goal?
As part of our Continuous Quality Improvement process, we ask our residents what they would like to accomplish in the next year. Classes are one way of helping our Ranchers reach these milestones in personal growth. By achieving a goal, they have personally chosen and invested in, their sense of self-worth is boosted. This, in turn, gives them confidence to go beyond their comfort zone and try new things.
Second, we ask if the classes are engaging for everyone in attendance, even while meeting individual students’ goals.
As one might imagine, this is not a straightforward task by any means. After a great deal of planning and collaboration, our instructors are thrilled with this semester’s class schedule. Merging quality material with upbeat presentation and an atmosphere of fun, each class is an exciting opportunity to grow, learn, and explore.
Let’s take a closer look at a few of the spring semester courses
One of the most exciting options this semester is Photography 101. Here, Ranchers will learn the basics of photography through verbal, visual, and hands-on learning. Classes will include lessons on photographing nature, people, food and events. By the end of the semester, students will take stunning photos that capture the beauty of the world around them.
As Rancher Craig recently said, “I love this class. It is fun to take the pictures.”
For those looking to improve their coordination and fitness, Movin’ & Groovin’ is the perfect class. By combining learned body movements and free dance, students can improve their overall physical abilities in an environment that promotes self-expression.
Rancher Joanne says that Movin’ & Groovin’ is challenging, but she loves the free dance part. “I’ll be moving all the time.”
Cooking Skills teaches more than just cooking. Beyond basic instruction, the class includes lessons on budgeting for ingredients, reading receipts, and planning the order of cooking steps before one begins. This class is perfect for those looking to improve their culinary prowess.
“I enjoy it,” Rancher Michelle says. “I learned something new — how to cut with a plastic knife. My favorite part is turning on the oven.”
In today’s digital age, computer skills are more important than ever before. That’s why Rainbow Academy is offering Introduction to Computers and Open Computer Lab. As part of these classes, students will learn computer safety protocols, keyboard and mouse functions, typing skills, and how to use search engines. The class also provides a chance to connect with friends and family via email and approved social media.
Rancher Julie says, “I enjoy Computer Lab. My favorite part is everything.”
Public Speaking is another exciting opportunity to build confidence. This course teaches basic and advanced skills for making presentations and introduces strategies for effective communication.
“I’m enjoying the class,” Rancher Greg says. “It’s teaching me how to present myself to others better.”
Art Appreciation will take the students on a journey through time. From the earliest cave paintings to modern art movements, this course is designed to broaden knowledge of art history, and by extension, the lives and cultures of the artists.
“We draw some of the old paintings, and we talk about their history,” Rancher Daniel says. “I like the history part best.”
Finally, Living on the Edge: Improving Personal Connections is a course designed to help Ranchers develop skills that will allow them to have more meaningful and successful relationships with their housemates, caregivers, family, and friends. The group covers topics including self-esteem, assertive communication skills, self-advocacy, setting healthy boundaries, and respecting other people’s boundaries, and includes opportunities for structured role-play to help students practice their newfound skills.
One rancher recently showed up for the group on the wrong day and was disappointed. He said the group was helping him understand himself and others better.
Additional classes include (but are not limited to) Karaoke, Choir, Bible Stories, Drawing, Painting, Current Events, Beginning Science, Introductory Spanish, US History, and Animal Behavior.
Extracurricular class extension activities and guest speakers including Hopi Elders and EPONA Equine Assisted Learning
We do not hold regular classes on Wednesday afternoons. Instead, the Academy offers a variety of extracurricular or class extension activities. The goal is to provide opportunities for exposure to innovative ideas and creative explorations that the Ranchers may not otherwise experience.
The Wednesday activities include trips to the library, guest speakers, hikes, educational field trips, and hands on learning that might not be sustainable for an entire semester.
By inviting guest speakers to share their knowledge and expertise with our Ranchers, we make deeper connections with our community. We believe that by learning from others, we can broaden our horizons and deepen our understanding of the world around us.
Recently, we had the pleasure of welcoming Hopi Elder and artist, Ruben Saufkie Sr., to our community. His presentation on the art of silver smithing and the cultural traditions that inform his work was truly inspiring. Our Ranchers were fascinated by the traditional symbology present in his beautiful creations and enjoyed joining in on a circle dance.
Parallel to the classes running this semester, we are also offering a four-week EPONA course. EPONA is an Equine Assisted Learning program which utilizes an experiential approach involving horses as co-facilitators of the learning process. Participants take part in activities designed to promote personal growth and development, improve communication and social skills, build confidence, and foster emotional regulation. The focus is on the process of engaging with the horse, rather than on riding or horsemanship skills. The horse’s intuitive nature and ability to provide immediate and honest feedback to human behavior make it an effective partner in the learning process.
Animal Science Coordinator, Aireal Cowan, says, “I have watched our Ranchers grow in their abilities to understand and trust the animals in a way that makes the experience productive, safe, and joyful for all involved. These exercises, I believe, will have a lasting impact on their ability to navigate future endeavors with more knowledge and confidence than previously available.”
The dedication of our Education Coordinator, Tim Nelson, and our instructors at Rainbow Acres Academy is truly inspiring. They have gone above and beyond to ensure that our Ranchers receive the best education and training possible. Through their hard work and commitment, our students are achieving personal milestones, mastering new skills, and building confidence in themselves.
Tim’s philosophy of “Do it. Do it again. Do it better and better” is paying off. Using this model of incremental improvement, the Academy instructors walk alongside Ranchers, inspiring and cheering the Ranchers every day.
We encourage our Ranchers to keep pushing themselves, to never give up on their dreams, and to always strive for their personal best. We know they are capable of great things, and we are here to support them in every step of the way.