By Kaulana Iokia
Kohala Youth Ranch, is located in beautiful Kapaau, North Kohala. Since 2012, they have helped hundreds of participants using their innovative program. Joe Vitorino, the Owner-Operator of Kohala Youth Ranch along with his wife Kelly, is certified in equine-assisted learning and therapy by the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association. While carrying out assigned tasks with horses, participants engage in activities that focus on principles of respect, responsibility, relationship skills, boundaries, empathy, choices and consequences, teamwork and leadership skills. Based on the Hawaiian belief systems of Aloha and Lokahi, Kohala Youth Ranch invites participants to use these new tools to help make a positive impact on their lives.
Joe shares that what they do at his ranch is called human building. He contacted Hui Ho’omalu inviting the foster youth of West Hawaii to participate in their free program. He introduces youth to Paso Fino horses, where they are allowed to pet, groom, talk to and interact with them. Through various symbolic engagement activities with Joe’s beautiful horses, the participants are able to learn about key life changing principles. The sessions are tailored to each individual group and participants receive a Kohala Youth Ranch Certificate of Participation upon completion.