Hunkapi Horse Program teaches valuable skills

November 29, 2005

The ASU-Hunkapi Horse Program serves more than 200 participants each week, reaching more than 1,500 individuals annually. Hunkapi is a research-based horse therapy program that teaches life skills, personal development, and riding skills to individuals with physical and emotional challenges.

The program began in 1996 as a research study that examined the effect of sports and exercise on children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD), autism, as well as at-risk youth and children with emotional needs. Results of the study showed that horse therapy provided the most consistently positive results compared to other physical interventions, such as basketball, swimming, and bicycle riding. Children with AD/HD showed significant improvements in reaction and movement time, self-esteem, as well as reduced depression and anxiety. Autistic children showed strengthened emotional control. With 1 in 166 children affected by autism or a related disorder (Centers for Disease Control, 2004), and with approximately 7.5 percent of school-age children with AD/HD (Mayo Clinic, 2002), the Hunkapi Horse Program meets a community need.

ASU’s Alternative Intervention Research Clinic established Hunkapi (pronounced Hoon KAH Pee) as an outreach service in 1999. The program serves the community through after school programs, mobile programs, summer camps and overnight camping excursions. Participants range in age from three through adult, with and without special needs.

Hunkapi programs teach participants to interact with the horses and focus on establishing positive, reciprocal relationships. Terra Schaad, the program’s director, explains that the reason the program has been able to help so many individuals is because horses require individuals to learn to manage their emotions. As horses give immediate feedback, it is evident that an individual’s emotions directly affect a horse. If a positive reaction from the horse is desired, the rider needs to put himself or herself into a frame of mind that affects the horse positively. This might compel the rider to be less anxious, less angry, less depressed, or calmer. Kids that cannot focus on a day-to-day basis are able to focus on the horse. Kids that have a hard time expressing trust and love are able to express these feelings naturally with a horse.

Terra Schaad remembers a particularly gratifying experience when she heard a six-year-old autistic boy speak his first words. When asked what makes this program worthwhile, she said, “Believing in people that [others] have given up on and seeing that there is hope.”

Hunkapi recently partnered with the Phoenix Zoo to provide a centrally located facility and equine program for children in need of equine therapy. Fundraising is underway to open a new 9-acre facility in January, 2006 that will combine resources to accommodate the growing number of individuals, families and groups requesting equine programs. The partners hope to jointly expand their outreach services and create additional scholarship opportunities for more children and adolescents to experience the therapeutic benefits of animal encounters. Download Full Image

Herberger College of Fine Arts announces new School of Theatre and Film

December 2, 2005

TEMPE, AZ - The ASU Herberger College of Fine Arts announced today that it received approval from the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) to begin operating a School of Theatre and Film.

The college proposed reorganizing its Department of Theatre to reflect its expanded role in ASU's new Bachelor of Arts degree in Film. The degree has two concentrations: Film and Media Production, provided by the Herberger College School of Theatre and Film, and Film and Media Studies, provided by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Download Full Image

"We look forward to serving the needs of ASU students interested in film and media production," said Linda Essig, director of the School of Theatre and Film. "The school will add new faculty and facilities over the next three years to teach an expanded range of production-oriented film courses."

F. Miguel Valenti, Lincoln Professor of Ethics and the Arts and coordinator of the new Film and Media Production concentration, said this combination of film production and ethical decision-making is in sync with ASU's status as the New American University. "I look forward to helping draw film to Arizona, to making ASU a nexus of quality production talent in the state and to providing ASU students with quality education."

Examples of classes to be offered by the School of Theatre and Film include: Principles of Dramatic Analysis; Directing for Film; Sex and Violence in Film and Television (Ethics and Entertainment); and Screenwriting and Film Post-Production.

The Herberger College School of Theatre and Film provides a comprehensive range of courses in performance and directing; design and production; new work development; theatre and performance studies; film; and theatre for youth. Its Theatre for Youth program is nationally ranked in the top three and the creative writing/playwriting program is ranked 15th among public institutions by U.S. News & World Report. To learn more about the School of Theatre and Film, visit