In the Native American tradition, life is a “walking.” One’s walking is determined by the state of one’s heart toward all that is around him. “Anasazi” is a Navajo word commonly interpreted as the “ancient ones” or “wise teachers.” According to legend, these wise teachers taught that the Creator placed man on the Earth in order for him to learn to “walk forward”—in harmony with man and all creation.
For years, ANASAZI Foundation—a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization headquartered in Arizona—has served families by introducing them to the wisdom of the lives led by these ancient ones.
Founded in 1988 by renowned wilderness pioneers Larry Olsen and Ezekiel Sanchez, ANASAZI gives young people an opportunity, through a primitive living experience and a philosophy that invites healing at the hands of nature, to effect a change of heart—a change in one’s whole way of walking in the world. ANASAZI’s licensed and nationally accredited outdoor behavioral healthcare programs are non-punitive—its caring and patient staff is focused not on bad behaviors, but on helping young people discover and nurture the “seeds of greatness” which lie within. To those at ANASAZI, the wilderness is not a harsh place to break youth down, but rather a safe place—a place free from distractions where one can learn, ponder, and build.
ANASAZI’s family-focused intervention programs (for youth 12-17 and young adults 18-25) are recognized worldwide for their unique and caring approach to treatment. ANASAZI’s preventive efforts—including parenting workshops and community drug awareness/education forums—have inspired two international best-sellers (Leadership and Self-Deception and The Anatomy of Peace), an Emmy-nominated drug abuse prevention campaign, and peacemaking techniques used as far away as the Middle East.
ANASAZI’s menu of services includes:
- 50-day (minimum stay) level II outdoor behavioral healthcare programs for youth and young adults
- Parenting workshops and continuing education forums
- Special courses (couples retreats, youth leadership expeditions, corporate training)
- Community-based drug and alcohol abuse prevention education forums
The 50-day program aids families of youth with mild-to-moderate mood disorders, behavioral problems, attachment disorders and/or adjustment difficulties. These would include depression, anxiety; bipolar disorder; oppositional behaviors; substance abuse; relational problems with family, school, law enforcement and/or peers; self-harming behaviors (eating problems, cutting, etc.); poor social skills; lack of motivation; entitlement orientations and other similar problems related to a lack of self-regulation and moral identity.
Independent research indicates that less than 10% of the youth who participate in ANASAZI’s treatment program return to in-patient care, and 56% of the youth who participate for substance abuse and chemical dependency completely abstain from future drug use (based on post-treatment outcome studies conducted at three years).
ANASAZI’s work is rooted in its core mission—to help parents and children turn their hearts to one another, begin anew, and walk in harmony in the wilderness of the world.