Our Team

Meet Sharon | Wellness Gap Year Operations Director

Sharon has 30 years of experience in building and launching therapeutic programs for adolescents and young adults; guaranteeing excellence and the highest standards in the industry. As a nationally recognised expert in residential, therapeutic, mental health, and experiential programs, Sharon is dedicated to helping students get what they need, when they need it, with the absolute best care.

Austin Rogers

Operations Powerhouse

Sharon Laney is an operations powerhouse. She’s worked with 26 programs in 11 states during her career, always staying close to her core mission of keeping students at the heart of every program; a perfect fit for our new wellness gap year model.

That drive and determination grew from firsthand experience, not just in her work, but in her personal life. As an aunt, Sharon experienced watching her nephew struggle, and the transformative effects therapeutic gap year adventure programming can have.

At the beginning of my career, I ran a family court system and got tired of seeing kids getting locked up and coming out worse rather than better. I’m continually impressed with seeing the change in students that therapeutic gap year adventure programming helps to facilitate. Programming like Rooted Life Adventures is the future of our industry.

Sharon Laney

Industry Leader

Now, a nationally known industry expert who has been actively involved in all aspects of programming, Sharon’s list of past positions held speaks to her passion and knowledge she brings to the industry.

For over 20 years, Sharon was COO of a large mental health/ therapeutic company serving youth in wilderness, residential, therapeutic boarding and transitional settings. She has also demonstrated effective leadership on a national level as the Vice President and President of the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP).

Throughout all of her work experiences, Sharon has always kept her love for helping families – and a firm advocacy for ethical, effective treatment strategies – as priorities in her work. She received NATSAP’s Leadership Award in 2010.

What is a Wellness Gap Year?

Rooted Life Adventures is the perfect hybrid programming option for today’s student. This therapeutic gap year model has adventure, without being too “hardcore”, and therapeutic support – without being too clinical – to enable on-the-spot interventions in a timely manner. It’s an ideal program for individuals who would benefit from an adventure program with mental health support, or have completed treatment and are looking for a stepping stone with more opportunity for independence while in a supported and sober environment.

Sharon is also a trained auditor with a national accreditation organization and has conducted various trainings at national conference related to the child care/mental health industry. Previous program involvement includes Auldern Academy, Three Springs, Lakehouse Academy, and Sedona Sky Academy.  Sharon will ensure excellence and the highest standards in Rooted Life Adventures’ new therapeutic gap year programming.

From Our Founder

The NEW Gap Year Program with Mental Health Support

Our world is an intriguing place. I’ve always been fascinated by what it has to offer. From different cultures and values, to foods and languages, our global community is as expansive as it is beautiful.

Travel changes you from the inside out. It opens your eyes to different ways of doing things, thinking about things, and even how you think about yourself. I believe it is by broadening our horizons, challenging ourselves, and stepping outside of our comfort zone that we are truly inspired to grow into our most authentic selves.

Finding Purpose

In my pursuit of what the world has to offer, I myself left my hometown of Dallas, Texas and went in search of global experiences. It was in New Zealand, where my passion for outdoor experiential education found a natural fit in the international gap year community. 

Over the years, I have managed gap year programs with hundreds of U.S. students on 70-day multi-country adventures, from Nepal, Tibet, Southeast Asia, Central America, South America, Hawaii, Australia, and New Zealand. It was through this that I developed the greatest sense of self, of belonging, of capability, and purpose. 

I saw, firsthand, the increasing number of adolescents suffering from mental health challenges, and the growing need for increased mental health support in programs. Gen Z has demonstrated a craving for learning about emotional intelligence, social justice, identity, and empathy with an acute attention to their mental and emotional wellbeing like never before.

Addressing the “Gap” in Gap Year

After a research deep dive, it became clear that there were no programs holding the space between Gap Year and full on Adventure therapy, which can be overwhelming and with a price tag out of reach for most families. 

My mission became clear. I needed to create a therapeutic gap year program that would take the best of the gap year community, volunteer service learning, cultural immersion and adventures activities, and pair it with mental health support, psychoeducational development, and wrap around care. 

Rooted Life Adventures is that therapeutic gap year program. I have reimagined adventure, travel, and therapeutic coaching in a way that facilitates exponential growth and deep and meaningful change through the power of community and belonging.

The RLA Experience

RLA students experience what it means to be part of something bigger than themselves. They learn how responsibility, accountability, and transparency creates authentic connections. They build confidence, self-esteem, and cultivate lifelong friendships by being part of a close knit team – travelling together, learning together, and overcoming challenges as a collective.

By immersing students in other cultures, they will be able to find even more humanity. By volunteering and working shoulder-to-shoulder with locals, they’ll learn how to benefit their global community. By testing their limits in every direction – from rock climbing, hiking, surfing, canyoning, kayaking, backpacking, and white water rafting – students will reach inside themselves and realize they are capable of more than they ever imagined. And by supporting their emotional wellbeing throughout the journey, they will be empowered to understand themselves more deeply and connect with those around them more fully.

Explore the world, and yourself, through a Rooted Life Adventure.

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