Return to Freedom Wild Horse Sanctuary conducts group programs specially designed for children, teens and youth at risk.
A large part of Return to Freedom’s educational efforts focus on programs for young people. They are our future and they deserve our best. We work with a variety of youth groups and organizations to create experiences that can last a life time. Specialized programs have been developed for youth at risk and victims of domestic violence as well as programs that focus on the arts and creative expression.
Our dedicated team can assist you to develop unique programs that are specially tailored to meet the special needs and objectives of your group.
Each program focuses on the natural order of communication and social structure. These are powerful tools that demonstrate the qualities of leadership, integrity, trust and community that can form effortlessly within any society.
Return to Freedom Mustang Youth Council (recommended for children 9-18)
Using social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, this youth-driven group learns about various wild horse issues and how they can make a difference. They also work on raising funds to care for horses at the sanctuary and help design youth activities on the ranch.
Kid’s Day at the Ranch (recommended for children 6-16)
Come along with your kids to help out for a day. Learn about what it takes to run a wild horse sanctuary: feeding, manure scooping, herd observation, feeding rescued pot-belly pigs, groom a tame burro, and more. Light refreshments and snacks will be served; please pack a lunch for you and your children. This program sells out every year, so sign up in advance. Recommended donation $45 per child/adult pair, $15 for each additional child (a friend or a sibling). Please check our calendar for dates and times.
Living History and Sanctuary Tours (recommended for children 9 and up)
Experience a vital link to our living history: America’s wild horses! Learn about the origins of the horse in America, how they shaped American cultures, what they face in the world today and what kids can do to help them. These tours will focus on herd behavior and general horse knowledge. A visit with “Spirit,” the horse who inspired the Dream Works animated movie, is included. Light refreshments will be provided before and after the tour. Suggested minimum donation $25 per adult, $10 for children under 12. Please check our calendar for dates and times.
Wild Horse Teen Camp (recommended for youth 12-17)
Learn everything about wild horses from the ground up. From evolution, and natural history to the current political issues concerning the wild horses and how teens can get involved. Learn about horse management on the ranch, including care, feeding, horse behavior and the unique way that Return To Freedom keeps wild horse families together while keeping the population low. There are no mounted riding activities. Refreshments and light snacks provided, campers must bring their own bag lunch. Suggested minimum donation $500. Please check our calendar for dates and times.
Volunteer Work Days (recommended for youth 9 and up)
The second Saturday of each month meet up with other volunteers and Return to Freedom staff as we push up our sleeves and tackle various projects around the ranch: gardening, carpentry, manure scooping, painting, fence repair, sustainability projects, habitat restoration, event preparation, and more. Bring your own lunch. Light refreshments provided. 10am-3pm, followed by a 3:30p hike to see the herds. Once a quarter, volunteers ages 14 and up, can attend a 2-hour equine orientation 10am-12 noon provided by the equine manager. Please check our calendar for dates and times.
Programs for Youth at Risk
Many young people have come from Return to Freedom from the inner city, far from the joys of open spaces and green grass. By interacting with horses and with one another in a natural environment, young people learn compassion and stewardship for all living creatures who share our precious planet.
Programs for Creative Expression
Other programs, developed in conjunction with our advisory board and partners, involve creative learning tools that include visual and performing arts. Young people from a variety of different cultures are invited to the American Wild Horse Sanctuary for one-day and weekend retreats. Through the day, the youth are taught leadership skills while using art and music to empower their experience and positive expression.
To Set Up a Program
To design a program or retreat for the young people that you work with, please contact us. We’ll be happy to hear from you.
Return to Freedom is proud to have provided programs for a variety of organizations such as
- World Trust Foundation Valley Village, CA
- Peace4Kids Long Beach, CA
- Child Abuse Listening & Mediation (CALM), Santa Maria, CA
- Boys and Girls Clubs of America
- Sweeney Youth Homes, Goleta, CA
Our Youth Program Advisors
We invite you to meet the dedicated team of men and women who facilitate the youth programs at Return to Freedom:
Diana DeMayo received a B.F.A. in Drama from the North Carolina School of the Arts. She has been a youth counselor and taught dance and drama at Wesleyan University’s Center for Creative Youth Program (CT), and a founding member of the Mojo Ensemble (Los Angeles). Diana is spearheading the Return to Freedom Youth program, where youth from all backgrounds can experience and embrace their own creativity through the arts and nature.
Clifford Berrien. Music Teacher. Clifford is currently completing his degree in Music therapy from the University of Arizona. Following his early studies in trumpet and bass, he went on to learn percussion from master African drummer Tony Duncansen. Clifford has enjoyed a playing career that has included jazz, reggae, rock, latin and world music. He is happy to share his talents and experiences with the Return to Freedom Youth Program.
Dannielle Berrien. Counselor. Dannielle received her degree in Liberal Arts from the University of Vermont. She is currently completing her Master degree in counseling from the University of Arizona. Danielle’s experience began with her work in the Peace Corps.
Annette Romano. Drama and Yoga Instructor. Annette Romano began teaching drama/writing classes to teenagers in the fall of 2000, serving a year-long artist-in-residency at the Street Kids’ School at the Orion Center in Seattle. She currently teaches yoga to people of all ages and backgrounds, and has created and maintains a highly successful teen yoga program at Seattle’s Juvenile Detention Center. Annette attended North Carolina School of the Arts, and the University of Washington. Her dream is to work with youth, particularly the disadvantaged, and to help them discover their unique voices.