After 15-year-old Samantha Dyer-Rocha committed suicide by stepping on to Highway 14, community support motivated her mother, Debbie Rocha, to turn the tragedy into something that could help others.
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Rocha, a single mother, hooked up with the owner of a local ranch and started SRD — Straightening Reins, which uses horses as a tool to promote emotional growth in teenagers, according to the organization’s website.
But it’s about more than that, Debbie Rocha said.
“It’s an organization that’s all about helping kids,” she said. “Samantha struggled from emotional issues. She just didn’t fit in — that was the bottom line. We lost her two years ago.
The organization Straightening Reins is hosting an “open barn,” where it’s inviting community members to have appetizers, beverages and to find out about the programs offered.
The community is invited May 23 from 4-6 p.m.
“I had no intention in starting this,” she said. “But the community support was phenomenal.”
There myriad programs for helping youngsters who are struggling to find their identity or working through common problems facing lots of teens, she said.
“We’ve got workshops going on. We have an art class; we have a communications class,” she said.
Straightening Reins is located on Quail Trail near Vasquez Canyon Road.
It offers a number of classes and support groups, teaching children how to be creative through photography and painting, in addition to providing counseling for grief, drug/alcohol abuse and peer pressure.
The barn exists to encourage students to open up about their feelings and struggles through interactions with horses and other barnyard animals, such as goats and miniature donkeys.
Straightening Reins also sponsors a college scholarship for aspiring students at Vasquez High School, where Dyer-Rocha attended.
“They work on how to establish healthy boundaries — ‘how do I feel good about myself? How do I learn to like myself,’ and building up those things,” she said. “It takes a community. It takes a village,” she said.
Straightening Reins is a working ranch owned by a man who lost a child to cystic fibrosis.
The ranch is located at 30255 Quail Trail Road in Santa Clarita. It’s on the left along San Francisquito Canyon — 2.6 miles from Copper Hill.
There are signs along Quail Trail Road to the ranch. The flyer cautions that it’s a working ranch, and close-toed shoes are recommended.
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Source: Santa Clarita News