Contact us Monday through Friday 8am to 5pm at 715-327-4402

Meet Dr. Michael Woodin

Dr. Michael Woodin, PH.D.

Dr. Michael Woodin, PH.D.

Pediatric Neuropsychologist

Northwest Passage is pleased to welcome Dr. Michael Woodin, Ph.D. to the clinical team at our Prairieview campus. Dr. Woodin’s strong background in pediatric neuropsychological assessment and intervention makes him a welcome member of the team. In addition to his neuropsychological background, Dr. Woodin formerly served as a Graduate Program Director and Clinical Professor at Miami University where he focused on courses in psychological assessment, evidence-based interventions, collaboration with educational and medical professionals, neurodevelopmental disorders, and teacher education. While working in higher education, Dr. Woodin actively worked as a neuropsychologist in service to urban and rural school districts providing direct service and consultation to teachers, administrators, students, and their families. He was comfortable providing services in the schools as he previously worked as a teacher, English Department Head, and Special Educational Administrator.

Dr. Woodin is an expert in neurodevelopmental disorders who has authored current books on brain research, childhood development, assessment, clinical case studies, and special education. He has conducted and published neuropsychological research in the areas of behavioral genetics, neurocognitive phenotypes, the 22q11.2 microdeletion syndrome, attention, executive functioning, working memory, giftedness, anxiety, and evidence-based interventions for use in school and clinical settings.

Before joining Northwest Passage, Dr. Woodin worked as a pediatric neuropsychologist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the Rush-Presbyterian Medical Center in Chicago, and in private practice. He received his training in Pediatric Psychology, Pediatric Neuropsychology, assessment, and therapy through the Children’s Seashore House and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where he completed his residency. He also completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in Pediatric Neuropsychology at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in Philadelphia where he was part of a team that completed groundbreaking research on the neuropsychological profile of children with velocardiofacial syndrome, a genetic condition that has links to schizophrenia, mental health concerns, and childhood problems with social cognition. 

Dr. Woodin has consulted at the state and national levels and worked extensively with public, private, and charter schools to effect positive change for students, staff, and parents. He spent several years as a teacher and administrator for a private and residential summer school program in Vermont for individuals with learning disabilities. Dr. Woodin has presented at international, national, and state conferences and has actively trained professionals such as psychologists, teachers, administrators, and graduate students.

Dr. Woodin is proud to be married to Teresa, his wife of 23 years and to be the father of his two teenage sons, Connor and Brendan. Dr. Woodin is thrilled to work with the children and teens who come to Northwest Passage by giving them a great overall assessment, finding their strengths as well as identifying their weaknesses, and helping them to move forward and live a life worth living.

Valentine’s Day Love

KIDS FIND MEANING IN MESSAGES OF SUPPORT AND HOPE

In mid-January, we mailed blank cards to our supporters and asked them to fill those cards with messages of support and hope for our kids to receive on Valentine’s Day. The response was overwhelming and we received 180 personal and inspirational messages to share with the residents of Northwest Passage.

Being away from home is hard on the best of days, but can be particularly lonely on a holiday. These messages let the kids know there are people out there who are thinking of them, supporting them and believe they can overcome their current challenges. The messages received were impactful for our residents and they were very grateful for those who took the time to think of them on Valentine’s Day.

Thank you so much. Thanks for believing in me when no one else did.

Kaleb, 12

Happy Valentine’s Day! Thank you so much for the card. It was one of the best parts of my day, receiving such a positive message and motivating one as well. It helps a lot knowing there is someone out there acknowledging my progress and who cares about us!

Anonymous

I am a resident at Northwest Passage Riverside. I have received Valentine’s cards from you and I just want to say thank you for your generosity and kindness. It’s nice to know that there are people out in the world that care. You are really doing a great thing with writing these cards because there are people that don’t get anything. Thank you very much!

Jayden, 16

Happy Valentine’s Day! I really liked your cards. They were really heartwarming. You made my whole day. This kind of stuff makes me want to just go an extra mile here at Passage. Thank you for all of the support.

Anonymous

Our residents felt moved to write these messages of thanks after receiving their Valentine’s cards. These simple acts of kindness had a profound effect on those who received the cards and provided the kids with motivation to continue their hard work at Northwest Passage. Thank you!

Creating positive and supportive relationships fits into the Northwest Passage philosophy of living a therapeutic lifestyle every day. Read more about the eight elements at http://nwpltd.org/passageway/.

“Baking” the Holidays Brighter!

Northwest Passage’s Prairieview kids bake up some holiday joy!

“If Christmas had a smell, it would be like these cookies!”. This sentiment, spoken by a resident of Northwest Passage’s Prairieview facility, added humor to an already enjoyable day at Northwoods Bakery Cafe in Frederic. During the month of December the owner of the bakery, Maria Booher, invited youth from Aspen, Willow and Maple Units to spend time in the kitchen to create sweet holiday treats. The kids rolled the dough, cut the cookies and helped with the baking, making it feel like Christmas – even while away from home.

Northwoods Bakery Cafe, located at 115 Oak Street W in Frederic, is a full-service bakery and cafe featuring daily specials and great coffee! The bakery is open daily and offers fresh bread, rolls, pastries, birthday cakes and cupcakes in addition to their delicious and festive holiday cookies. In addition to hosting Northwest Passage kids for holiday baking, the Northwoods Bakery Cafe currently employs two Prairieview residents part-time, allowing them to work in their community and earn some extra pocket money. Tracy Kronn, Northwest Passage Case Manager and Aftercare Coordinator, explained “It has been a pleasure to partner with the bakery. They have welcomed us into their family with open arms and have been a big supporter of Northwest Passage and the work we do every day with these kids. They have provided a positive work environment for our residents, who have absolutely thrived from the experience. The Christmas cookie baking extravaganza was a hit among several of our residents… who doesn’t love a little cookie therapy from time to time? We are looking forward to partnering with Northwoods Bakery Cafe for more baking sessions in the New Year”.

While the kids enjoyed the preparation and baking of the cookies, they may have enjoyed taste-testing the most! After sampling their finished product, one student declared “These cookies taste low key sweet!”, then quickly assured the baking team, that is a GOOD thing!

 

Northwest Passage is dedicated to restoring hope through innovative mental health services for children and families.

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Translations in Watercolor: Inspired by Schaefer Cabin

Residents of Prairieview Find Inspiration in Nature

Therapeutic nature photography is an important part of the healing process at Northwest Passage. The program emphasizes skilled expressive arts training and nature immersion, ultimately empowering marginalized youth to define themselves by their strengths rather than their weaknesses.

In October, residents of Prairieview took advantage of the crisp fall weather to venture to Schaefer Cabin. The colors of the changing leaves and the peaceful waters of the Namekagon River helped to inspire their work with watercolor painting. Working from their own photographs taken over previous weeks, they began their paintings inside the cozy cabin with a fire blazing in the fireplace.

While watercolor can be a difficult medium to master, the students were up for the challenge. One artist said “I’ve worked with acrylics before, but not watercolor. The colors get muddy really fast if you’re not careful. This was a learning experience”.

Once their masterpieces were complete, they were ready to be shared with the Northwest Passage staff and residents. A show entitled “Translations in Watercolor: Inspired by Schaefer Cabin” was held on November 15 at the Prairieview gymnasium in Frederic. The artists circulated and answered questions about their pieces and provided feedback for their peers. They took great pride in their watercolor paintings and enjoyed displaying them for an audience.

Northwest Passage supports living a therapeutic lifestyle we call the PassageWay. One of the elements of the PassageWay is NATURE. Spending time in Nature allows us to recenter and unplug. The sun on our faces, the wind blowing, the sounds… all come together to bring harmony to our lives.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PASSAGEWAY

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NWP CELEBRATES 40 YEARS OF HOPE & HEALING

Northwest Passage, a forerunner in residential mental health care for children and teens based in Webster, Wisconsin, is celebrating 40 years of hope and healing. Northwest Passage is dedicated to restoring hope through innovative mental health services for children and families.

Steve Ammend and Denison Tucker co-founded the development of Northwest Passage in 1978. After working together at an adolescent psychiatric unit, they had a vision to develop a mental health treatment program for adolescent boys using the wonderful natural resources of northwestern Wisconsin. Why Wisconsin? The area, beyond simply lacking in treatment programs, possessed a restorative and healing natural environment, unlike the concrete walls of the psychiatric unit they had grown accustomed to working in. After many long nights, and a rumored 37 million cups of coffee, Ammend and Tucker founded Northwest Passage on the premise that kids with mental health issues can get better in places other than a hospital. They believed healing could happen in a beautiful place, in nature, out in the woods. The founders knew then the intrinsic power nature has to heal.

From its genesis in 1978, Northwest Passage’s programming has focused on blending traditional mental health treatment with arts and nature-based therapy. Though the problems facing children and teens have evolved since 1978, the fundamental needs for self-respect, trust, relationships, and steady guidance remain the same. And while Northwest Passage has grown in size and sophistication, they’ve never lost sight of the foundations all children need to be successful. Above anything else, Northwest Passage’s goal is to restore hope in their clients. By investing in the lives of marginalized youth, they are influencing and changing how mental health is ultimately treated and viewed. The transformations seen at Northwest Passage are no less than extraordinary.

 

“We had been to doctor after doctor. No one seemed to be able to tell us how to help our daughter. When we found Northwest Passage, we had little hope left. But, then the doctors listened to us and to her. The treatment team worked together to figure out the puzzle our daughter’s life had become. When they finished their assessment, they sat down with us until it all made sense. They talked to us like people, not just like professionals. And they helped us where no one else could before. Now, we know what our daughter needs and we can finally help her to get it. The careful assessment that Northwest did gave us a miracle…and gave us back all the hope we had lost.” – Parent of a Northwest Passage resident

 

A long way from the humble beginnings of one house on the banks of the Clam River, Northwest Passage now operates three distinct residential treatment programs and two group programs:

  • COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT PROGRAM provides a focused multidisciplinary health assessment centered around collaboration that generates a dynamic treatment plan. This one-of-a-kind program offers children and families a chance to stop the guesswork and find stability. The program serves boys and girls ages 6-17 in 23 beds at Northwest Passage’s Frederic, Wisconsin location.
  • INTENSIVE RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT FOR BOYS is ideal for boys experiencing significant emotional and behavioral disorders. This program blends sophisticated treatment with the teaching of essential life skills such as personal responsibility and relationship building to provide an intensive, effective, and lasting treatment experience. The program serves males ages 12-17 in 26 beds at the Riverside location in Webster, Wisconsin.
  • INTENSIVE RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT FOR GIRLS is designed for the unique needs of adolescent females. Programming focuses on increased self-esteem, development of healthy coping skills, promotional of positive relationship-building and social skills, and promotion of a connection to community. This program serves girls ages 12-17 in 24 beds at the Prairieview location in Frederic, Wisconsin.
  • NORTHWEST OASIS GROUP HOME uses preexisting community services and couples those with a stable and structured setting giving clients opportunities to experience success in their home community and assists them in a seamless transition home. This program, located in Hayward, Wisconsin, focuses on serving juvenile males ages 12-17 experiencing difficulties in their homes, schools or communities.
  • NORTHWEST TRANSITIONS is a four bed adult family home located in New Richmond, Wisconsin. The group home is contracted with St. Croix County Mental Health and is working as part of their community support program to provide services for adults who are classified by the State of Wisconsin as having emotional disturbances or mental illness.

Northwest Passage also operates the In a New Light Gallery. The gallery is the physical manifestation of the hope and healing experiences of art and nature. The first of its kind, the In a New Light Gallery showcases the artwork of Northwest Passage’s clients who are learning for the first time to navigate their lives based on the talents they hold. Opened in May of 2013, the gallery also serves as a bridge to the community – a public testament to the truly astonishing talents of children and teens who are too often marginalized with the stigma associated with their mental illness. The space provides an opportunity to create conversation and foster partnerships within the community and local tourism groups. Through art exhibitions around the United States, as well as worldwide media exposure, the young artists of Northwest Passage have touched the lives of over one million people to date. By sharing their story, In a New Light gives marginalized children a voice to prove to the world that they are profoundly worthy of society’s investment. The In a New Light Gallery is located at 7417 North Bass Lake Road in Webster, Wisconsin, and is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm.

 

“Our kids often struggle to engage the world in a positive way, so we have worked hard to develop programming specific to helping them connect meaningfully with people and their community. Part of this effort has been the development of partnerships and other community connections that directly affect the kids we work with. We have many new and exciting projects on the horizon that will ensure we can continue our mission and continue to help each child we work with to realize their life is worth living. We are incredibly grateful for the support of our community, and look forward to being a valuable resource for families in Northwest Wisconsin and beyond for many years to come.” – Mark Elliott, Executive Director

 

16th Annual Golf Scramble

Northwest Passage held its 16th annual Passage Golf Scramble at the Frederic Golf Course. It was a huge success with dozens of community members and organizations stepping up to support the organization devoted to healing children for nearly 40 years. Over $22,000 was raised to support both current and past residents on their road to recovery and as they demonstrate success both during treatment, through therapeutic programming opportunities, and after, though the Alumni Award Fund.

For more information about Northwest Passage call 715-327-4402 or visit us at nwpltd.org.

Resources: Photos courtesy of Dillon Vibes

New Wellness Center

Northwest Passage is celebrating its increased capacity for serving children and families at its Frederic location this week with an Open House. The Prairieview and Assessment programs have gained a new Wellness Center, complete with a gym and both an outdoor and indoor classroom, and Prairieview added a new unit. The event will be held Thursday, August 24 from 3:30 – 5:30 pm at the new Wellness Center at 201 United Way in Frederic.

Situated at the south edge of town, Northwest Passage operates two mental health residential treatment programs serving youth struggling with mental illness ages 6-17. Ellen Race says of the programs, “treatment deals with everything from their physical and mental health, academics, and fun. Adding a facility like the Wellness Center provides greater quality of care, rain or shine.” As a part of the Wellness Center expansion, Northwest Passage has committed to providing an immersive, environmentally themed, project-based educational curriculum.

The students will work with a number of pollinator friendly projects throughout the year. They will work to assist Northwest Passage in the restoration of a portion of its land to native prairie grasses through multiple projects such as the St. Croix Master Watershed Stewards rain garden initiative and the National Park Service’s Pollinator Pledge. They will work directly with pollinators through service at Horst M. Rechelbacher Foundation’s pollinator lab, by tending to their own beehive. They will also grow pollinator dependent fruits and vegetables in their own gardens thanks to St. Croix Valley Foundations support and make pollinator friendly art projects – all of which will be on display at Thursday’s open house.

Tours will also be given of the newest unit at Prairieview. “We’re excited to be showing off our new unit in our Prairieview program,” says executive director Mark Elliott. “There is a dramatic shortage of residential mental health services in the state and all over the county. This expansion does a small part in reaching that need. It allows us to pursue our mission with even more kids.”

Northwest Passage would like to thank the St. Croix Valley Foundation as a number of these projects received funding from the SCVF and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin.

For more details about the event, please visit our events page at nwpltd.org/events. To RSVP please call us at 715-327-4402 or visit our Facebook page.

Resources: Photos courtesy of Dillon Vibes

 

Chris Lutter Returns to Passage

Northwest Passage welcomes Minneapolis-based theater artist Chris Lutter-Gardella, noted for his work in Burnett County, as its July Artist-in-Residence.

Chris designed and lead the Jordan Buck Community Art Project to celebrate the centennial of that national record-holding whitetail in August of 2014. In 2015 and 2016, he lead students creating the Siren Dragon mascot and the Webster Centennial Sunfish art project.

The Wisconsin native specializes in designing projects using industrial materials that would typically be discarded. He emphasizes eco-consciousness and resourcefulness, explaining “As a community educator and artist-in-residence, I engage community members in re-purposing various ‘waste materials’ into performable artworks, while deepening their connections to the Earth and to one another.”

Chris hopes to further expand on the work of former Artist in Residence, Cait Irwin, with symbols and metaphors. He plans to use water as the main symbolic focus and have the kids explore what that means to them.

In addition to Chris’ residency, he manages and directs Puppet Farm Arts, a nonprofit organization that centers around “teaching artistic improvisation while integrating the repurposing of waste-stream material into imaginative inventions for “public-square community theater.””

Over the past two years, Northwest Passage has hosted many artists with skill sets ranging from sculpture, drawing, music, photography and much more. Inviting artists to the Passage campus raises the caliber of treatment that Northwest Passage can offer.

The Artist in Residence program is just one program that sets Passage apart from other mental health treatment centers. Incorporating the Artist in Residence program builds a warm, immersive atmosphere that contrasts the typical sterile environment of a hospital setting.

By doing this, the residents can forget about the mental health stigma and truly focus on their recovery. Since 1978, Northwest Passage’s mission has been to restore hope through innovative health services for children and families.

New Resources Refresh the Equine Therapy Program

Thanks to our clinical director Angela Frederickson, we have been able to provide Equine Therapy to our Northwest Passage kids for the past eight years. It has been an excellent experience for many of our kids and we are so happy to announce that our program is not only flourishing but it is also growing!

Passage is bringing back horses to the Gallery grounds on Fridays for the Riverside boys. Horses will also now be available at the Prairieview and Assessment facilities. Plus we have added another EAGALA certified clinician at Riverside who can facilitate the Riverside programming at the Gallery.

EAGALA stands for Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association. According to Eagala.org, EAGALA is the leading international nonprofit association for professionals incorporating horses to address mental health and personal development needs. Incorporating horses into our kid’s treatment plans is a refreshing way that they can become more introspective.

Equine therapy can be a great tool used by our residents. Associate editor at Psych Central, Margarita Tartakovsky M.S. explains, “Because horses can sense a person’s feelings and respond accordingly, they can serve as a mirror that the person can use to see and understand feelings they may not be aware of.”

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The EAGALA website states, “To evade predators, horses have evolved to be extremely sensitive to their environment. They instinctively analyze and react to our body language and other nonverbal cues. As a result, we are able to gain insight into our own nonverbal communication and behavior patterns. The EAGALA Model invites clients into an arena for ground-based interaction with horses to facilitate the therapeutic process. These horses become the focal point in client-driven discovery and analysis.”

Our newest EAGALA clinican, Kayla said, “I grew up riding horses in northwest Wisconsin with my family. One of the horses I am bringing to Passage has been with me since I was 12 years old and he has not only taught me how to ride, but also taught me how horses can impact people from the ground.”

The EAGALA model is based on off all groundwork; at no point does a client ever mount or ride a horse. By just being in the arena with the horses our clients can experience comfort, support and sometimes even a challenge. At that point, the horses become a part of the treatment team because they are apart of the recovery process and what happens in the arena. As part of the EAGALA model the animal is represented as a professional partner.

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EAGALA has more of a mental health focus compared to other horse therapy programs and is all about giving the kids a place to be themselves and to experience their issues in the moment. It requires a lot of trusting in the horses to take care of the session and to be able to sense what is needed in that moment.

Horses require relationships to be built in order to trust. They require relationship repair the same as any person would after damage has been made, but they don’t pre-judge the way that people tend to. The horses do not get a rundown of the client’s mental health history or any background information.

Tartakovsky continues to explain the opportunities for cultivating healthy relationships; “Horses offer the person a non-judging relationship, which can help a person struggling with the negative relationship consequences from his mental illness to rebuild his confidence without fear of criticism.”
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During our equine sessions, the horses are set loose and are free to roam around the arena so that they are able to be themselves. They each have their own personalities and mannerisms. It is entirely up to the residents to interpret the feedback that the horses give. The clinicians who facilitate these sessions are strictly there to provide emotional and physical safety if need be.

EAGALA is about trusting the herd. Due to this being such an experiential model, it is important that the horses names, genders, and ages are not identified to the clients so that they can utilize them as they see necessary in the moment.

Overall, Northwest Passage is excited to be exploring another innovative therapeutic method so the work can continue to expand on our diverse, yet effective paths of healing. By taking to these new techniques, it is just one more way Passage stands out from other residential treatment facilities. Northwest Passage continues to look forward to seeing all the progress our kids will make due to equine therapy!

Spotlight Reception for Cait Irwin

WEBSTER, WISCONSIN – June 30, 2017 Northwest Passage hosted Artist in Residence, Cait Irwin at the New Light Gallery to recognize her exclusive Northwood’s Collection and the work she has done with the Passage residents. This is a chance to see one-of-a-kind artwork made possible through a unique artist and student collaboration.

During a short presentation, Irwin will be discussing her own battle with mental health issues and how she learned to use art as a positive outlet. At age 14, she started writing in a personal journal. Which quickly transformed into her book titled, Conquering the Beast Within.

With a background in expressive arts, history with mental illness and a passion to share her story, Irwin was the ideal inaugural candidate to kick off the new Artist in Residence program back in the summer of 2016. This will be Irwin’s second summer spent at Schaefer Cabin in Webster, WI. She explains how working with others is a life calling for her, “Art has saved my life many times and I feel like it is my responsibility to pass on any coping skills I have learned along the way.”

Made possible through partnerships with St. Croix Valley Foundation and the National Park Service, the 2017 Artist in Residence program is a way for the Passage residents to express themselves through a creative medium. For many of the kids, it is the first time they are given the opportunity to explore sculpture, photography, poetry or musical instruments. When words fail, giving kids the tools to discover a different outlet can help them with their own understanding of their emotions.

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