The month of September was National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and Thursday, September 10 was World Suicide Prevention Day. To help raise awareness of the fact that all over the world, kids, teens, and adults suffer from depression, which if untreated can lead to suicide, one of the Northwest Passage Prairieview residents, Lexie age 15, organized some activities. The girls and staff released balloons with personal messages on them. They also wore orange and green, tied orange and green ribbons to a fence, participated in a flash mob dance, and held a cookout.
What Lexie had to say about the day’s events:
“As many people know September 10 is National Depression Awareness and Suicide Prevention Day. This is something that is very close and important to me for various reasons. Not only was I intrigued to create a special day here for us Prairieview girls because of personal struggles but also because of research I sort of stumbled upon. For example, a suicide occurs every 40 seconds. Suicide is currently the third leading cause of death among teens worldwide and, lastly, according to the Department of Veteran Affairs, our armed forces face an epidemic of suicide; a service member committing suicide every 25 hours and a veteran committing suicide every 65 minutes. Suicide and depression are not a game and depression is a serious mental health condition and should ALWAYS be taken seriously because it can be fatal. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary situation. To help raise awareness I organized, with the help of staff, a cookout, balloon releasing, orange and green color wear, a flash mob dance and ribbon tying. Depression doesn’t have to be the end, rather a start to something great.
Some signs of depression are: Dropping grades, Lack of interest in once enjoyed activities, Withdrawing socially, Throwing and/or giving away treasured items, Dramatic change in appearance, Marked change in personality, Excessive or unusual lethargy, Suicidal thoughts and/or actions.”
If you know someone who is struggling with depression or you see signs that someone may be currently experiencing depression, encourage them to seek help. There are many resources that can be helpful to them, including several organizations:
Burnett County Crisis Services, http://www.burnettcounty.com/index.aspx?NID=176
Mental Health Task Force of Burnett County, http://www.healthyburnett.org/?page_id=179
Mental Health Task Force of Polk County, http://mentalhealthpolk.org/
And other web sites:
If you or someone you know is ever in a suicide crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or National Hopeline Network at 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433) for help.
Adios is a 20-year-old pony born in Minnesota; he was originally the herd stallion and has many good natured sons and daughters. He was then acquired by Northwest Passage’s own Nancy Jensen, a former employee of many years. He was the companion of her grandchildren until they grew bigger than he did! This is his first year as an EAGALA pony.
Angel is a 19-year-old Appaloosa horse; has held many jobs in her life. She was a trail horse, a show horse, and a lesson horse. An injury slowed down her riding career, but has not stopped her from playing with the kids of Northwest Passage as an EAGALA horse. She has been working on and off with Northwest Passage for the last 4 years.
Cinnamon (a.k.a. CIndy)
Cinnamon/Cindy is a 14-year-old standard size donkey who comes to us from a training ranch. Her job used to be helping horse trainers start out young horses. After some personal hardship her owner reached out for a home for her and Northwest Passage happily gave her a new career as an EAGALA donkey. This is Cindy’s second year.
Tully is a 15-year-old horse who hails from Hannibal, WI. He was supposed to be born a spotted horse…but surprised his owners by coming out a beautiful solid buckskin color. He rode the trails with his owners until he became a lesson horse where he taught many young riders the virtue of patience! He has worked as a Northwest Passage EAGALA horse for the last 3 years.
Northwest Passage Child and Adolescent Center is excited to announce that long time staff, Caleb Melton, has been awarded the prestigious, “Excellence in Service Award” from the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP).
The Excellence in Service Award highlights the outstanding front-line staff that serve organizations that provide residential, therapeutic, and education services to children and adolescents. Recipients of the award play vital roles behind the scenes and deserve to be recognized for their work to help change the world, one child at a time. We thank you Caleb for your years of service and your “Sure, anything I can do to help!” attitude.
Our program director, Ellen Race wrote a glowing letter of recommendation for Caleb that captured his essence of excellence. We especially liked the following quote, but you can read the letter in entirety here: Caleb Melton’s Letter of Recommendation
“Caleb has had a positive impact on the lives of hundreds of kids during his time with Northwest Passage and has become a role model for new staff members. We could not be more proud of having Caleb on our team.”
The announcement can be found on NATSAP’s website here: 2015 Midwest Regional Conference Excellence in Service Award Recipient Caleb Melton
Caleb Melton is from Shell Lake Wisconsin, and has been a valued Northwest Passage team member for 15 years. He was awarded the Excellence in Service Award at the 2015 NATSAP Midwest Regional Conference Clayton Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, on Friday, September 11, 2015.
The ladies of Prairieview recently participated in an orienteering lesson at Crex Meadows. The girls first got an introduction to Crex Meadows and then spent time in the classroom learning about the parts of a compass and how to use one of these age old tools for adventure.
The ladies did some calculating in order to figure out their pace and were eventually put to the test out in the woods. Working in teams, the girls were given different courses to complete. These courses required them to find their “bearing” and calculate their pace so that they could locate the next clue.
Upon completing each course, they had to read and fill out a worksheet on various native Wisconsin animals found at Crex Meadows. The girls did a fantastic job, with one team finishing the most difficult course! The morning was filled with adventure, fun and learning all while in the outdoors.
Brittany Bosak, Prairieview Teacher
Northwest Passage values teaching residents outside of just the traditional classroom. Getting them outside helps to make the learning concepts real and relevant to the world. It allows them to learn through play and experimentation. It exposes them to new opportunities and helps develop their interest in the environment and other surroundings.
April 23rd marked the first Passage Foundation Board meeting of the year. The Board, comprised of various community members and Northwest Passage Staff, reviewed Scholarship applications from 4 past clients, awarding a grand total of $6200.
The funds will be used for everything from school tuition to rent expenses.
I wanted to update you on the fun and exciting things going on with the Passage Foundation! We met yesterday and awarded money to 2 Northwest Passage Clients and 2 Northwest Journey Clients.
Jalyn W. received up to $2500/semester for her first year at UW-Superior. She will be studying Psychology/Social Work. Jalyn has overcome a lot lately (death of her mother and horse) and is still using her skills and working hard to be successful!
Alexa G. received an award of $2700.00 to help her buy clothing and establish her first apartment. She has two jobs in the food service industry and this will really help her continue her positive efforts. She doesn’t have a lot of supports, so Emily and Amanda have helped her a lot in this process!
Northwest Journey Approved $500 awards for Noah P. and Eric A, who are both are attending college.
Eric will by studying gunsmithing, and Noah is pursuing a degree in Bible Studies.
Huge Congratulations to all of these great kids!!! Remember, without your efforts and guidance, would likely not be where they are today!
Update regarding the Passage Foundation:
We meet in the Spring and Fall of each year. Clients need to be out of the program for at least 6 months and be making efforts to be successful, law abiding and healthy individuals in their communities. They can be 14, 24 or 34 years old and still apply and be eligible for an award.
Each time one of your kids calls back to update you on their efforts since discharge or to tell you a fun story, or look for advice, Please remind them about the Foundation! Applications are in the public folders and on the website. We are also looking into better ways to keep everyone informed and thinking about The Passage Foundation.
The Board currently consists of the following people, so feel free to ask them questions as well:
And Mandy O’Malley (me)
This summer session of horse therapy has been busy! Due to my horse addiction I have collected enough horses (much to my husband’s dismay) to do horse therapy continuously, which has allowed for much more time with all of our kiddos. A big, big thanks to Mark Elliott who completes the bulk of the horse chores during the week – feeding, moving fence panels, driving hay bales around, and most importantly… poop pick up! Also, a big thanks to all the staff, case managers, and program coordinators that help schedule horse therapy for the kids.
Over the course of the last three months, all of the Lakeshore boys have experienced six week group sessions with the horses. This last group struggled to come together during the activities, but developed this amazing ending ritual in which they all worked together to clean the arena and feed the horses each week. During the last session they used their expressive arts cameras to take pictures that represent their relationship with the animals. They took some really great group photos with the donkey.
Riverside boys have experienced the horses in a variety of ways. They had Dialectical Behavior Therapy skills group with the horses to help them learn the skill ACCEPTS. Three clients have been working in horse therapy during their individual therapy sessions. One of our clients has been working on building up the courage and motivation to create a narrative of his life. It will likely have a superhero theme – check out the next two photos of his “cave” (left) and “WonderDonkey” (right).
Garrett has focused on problem solving and we were even able to schedule a family therapy session, horsey style. Finally, Evan has been spending some one-on-one time with the horses. For his final session he painted with the horses to create a transitional object to hold him over until horse therapy starts up again. Check out his AMAZING painting.
The Prairieview girls also all engaged in a six week group session with the horses. They went about horse therapy in the way only our incredible girls know how. They asserted themselves throughout the whole six weeks. During their last session this erupted in beautiful cooperation and creativity.
Check out their photos in which they were making art with their equine partners. Check out one of the gals – when she started her project she leaned over to “beasty” (the big tan horse) and said quietly, “What should we draw, baby?”
Also, I was the one that suggested Ndolo put the apple in her mouth and then feed it to the donkey for a photo-op. Talk about a trust exercise! Way to go Ndolo!
Finally, our absolutely fantastic group of interns this year, started their internship out with some horse therapy to invite them to do some thinking about the direction they wanted to take their internship this year – wicked fun.
I can’t wait for our fall session that starts in October!
Angela Fredrickson, LCSW, Clinical Director
Keep an eye out for our introduction to the “staff” once the fall session swings into action this November.
Northwest Passage is committed to providing a diverse set of therapy opportunities to our kids. We are happy to be able to provide Equine Therapy sessions to our kids as an alternative way to open up and communicate about themselves and their lives. Those of us who have had an opportunity to experience the safety and comfort of Equine Therapy, can say just how special this is. Thank you to Shannon and Angela for making this happen. To learn more about our Equine Therapy sessions, please check out past articles on the subject here and here.
The boys of Lakeshore reflect on how their photos relate to their lives.
In a New Light: Dominic, 16 – “Busy”
This picture was taken on a photo trip at the CCC bridge landing. This is a picture that I took of a bee working on pollinating flowers. As you can see this bee is very busy at work. This picture reminds me how hard working bees are when they are pollinating flowers. It is so cool how bees pollinate! This picture also reminds me of how hard I have been working on getting emotionally stable for me to return back into my home and society. I have been doing great at Northwest Passage Lakeshore. I have been actively participating in programming and therapy. I have been getting a lot more positive than ever. I used to be negative and depressed all of the time and I would crave for people to like me. I always worried about whether people would like me. Whenever someone wouldn’t like me I would think it was the end of the world and believe that no one liked me or wanted to like me. But, since being at Northwest Passage I have been happier, healthier, and less anxious. I have been doing well with repairing my relationship with my parents that was broken for awhile. I have come to realize that there is a lot to like about myself and if people want to judge or criticize me then I will let them because I know who I truly am.
In a New Light: Dominic, 16 – “Colors”
This picture was taken at the Hunt Hill trail. As you can see this is a picture is of a frog on a log. When I saw this frog, I thought it was fascinating because I have never seen a frog in these combinations of colors before. When I put this amphibian on a log, its colors just popped out with the algae. I also remember being able to see through some parts of the frog’s body because of the light color combinations it had. Just looking at this picture reminds me that not everything in the world is exactly the same. Sometimes we are the same species, but we still act and think differently. It makes me feel better about myself when looking at this particular picture because I always thought I was the only different person in the whole world, and because of those thoughts I believed no one would ever like me. But since being at Northwest Passage Lakeshore, I have met some people with similar problems and issues. This tells me that I am not the only person in the world with these complications.
In a New Light: Dominic, 16 – “Soak”
This picture was taken on a photo trip at the CCC bridge landing. It is a picture of a frog that was in a puddle. It wasn’t the only frog in the water either. There were about three other frogs swimming in this puddle. This picture reminds me of the fun experiences I had swimming at my local swimming pool in my hometown of Lancaster, Wisconsin. I have always enjoyed swimming. I would go to the pool almost every day of the week during the summer if the weather permitted it. I usually go to socialize with other teens and kids and to jump off the diving board. I am pretty good at jumping off of the diving board. I can do a lot of splash tricks as well as a lot of spins and flips. I can do a one and a half front flip and can sometimes complete a double front flip. I can do a 360 flip and a side flip as well. In the last two years I just learned a new trick called a Kick the Moon. This is a pretty difficult trick to do. It pretty much is a back flip that is sideways. It took me awhile to officially succeed in this trick. I had to undergo a lot of back and belly flops on the water, which caused me to become immune to the pain of those tricks.
In a New Light: Dominic, 16 – “Uneasy”
This picture was taken on August 5, 2015. It was on a day that we stayed local so we could make it to horse therapy on time. This picture reminds me about the uncomfortable experiences I have gone through. It reminds me about when I was abandoned by my biological parents. I was only three years old at the time and I was alone and uncared for. The picture also reminds me of my traumatic experience that occurred after I was adopted. I was only four years old when my babysitter assaulted me. I was very scared and never told anyone what happened until I was eleven years old because my babysitter threatened to hurt me and my parents if I told anyone. But, ever since I came to Northwest Passage Lakeshore I have learned to cope with my feelings and accept that I can not change the past. But I can control my future and I plan to complete my treatment here, graduate from high school, go to college, and become a psychologist and help people with issues similar to mine.
In a New Light: Martin – “Deep Blue Bass”
These fishes can breathe in the water; I can’t breathe in the water. But we are both in the water, we are both swimming. We are both looking at each other. We are both scared of things we don’t know. When I am in the water, I feel so happy. I would rather just observe everything than set up a picture. But sometimes I think a picture would be perfect. Like this picture. The lighting was perfect, and the water was so clear. If I hadn’t taken this picture, I would never have remembered that moment.
In a New Light: Martin – “Sunrise Swan”
When you sneak up on nature, you see its beauty more. Early in the morning you see nature stretching its arms and toes and slowly opening its eyes; the orange light of the rising sun slowly warming you from the dark coldness of the night. I feel the serenity of the swan when I look at this picture. I feel the warmth of the morning sun. I see the smoothness of the water. And I see the Sunrise Swan.
In a New Light: Quinnten – “When I was Young”
When I was about 5 years old my father would take me out into the woods for deer hunting. I really enjoyed myself in the woods. I also remember my dad and I making firewood. We never quite had enough wood. He would cut and I would load the Ford Ranger and trailer. He sometimes would even let me cut wood. I never did like piling up the brush though. It also makes me think of how my cousins used to come over for the weekend. My little brother and sister and my cousins and I would go out in the woods and go mudding with a couple of lawnmowers along with the four wheelers and the three wheeler and with my dirt bike. We even had a ATV trail that I would dirt bike on with my dad. He had a KX250 and I had a 110 Suzuki. We had so much fun together.
In a New Light: Quinnten – “The Old Tire”
I’ve been beaten down
And left on the ground
But now I’ve been found
And picked up off the ground
I am hysterical because
This is truly a miracle
And the best news is
That I am repairable!!!
Other photos taken by the talented youth residing at Northwest Passage Lakeshore. For even more photos please visit: http://inanewlight.org/.
The girls at Northwest Passage Prairieview set out on a special underwater photography excursion featuring special guest Emily Stone. Emily is an education director and naturalist at the Cable History Museum in Wisconsin. She is a gardener and explorer of the natural world. The Prairieview girls shared the day with Emily and eagerly showed her tips and tricks of taking excellent underwater photos as well as how to prepare for the day. They all slipped on their wet suits, placed snorkel masks over their heads, and squeezed their feet into flippers to get started.
They began exploring the Namekagon Dam region with faces in water. From the surface, the girls appear to be calm, gently bobbing up and down on the surface of the clean, bronze water. Descending into water with their eyes wide open, the girls hover above an abundance of animated life. Water plants sway and turn under their noses. Schools of fish dart around their cameras and bodies. Crayfish retreat to nearby rocks and then cautiously peek out to continue on with their work. The sun expands underwater and turns the particles around them into gold specs. Suspended in this watery space, the girls continue to photograph. A young girl captures a picture of a shiner fighting the current under the dam, and a conversation emerges about the playful fish. With each new discovery of a species, the hands-on experience brings new unexpected knowledge.
When lunch time started (Emily brought garden fresh carrots to share with everyone), the girls interviewed Emily to understand her role in protecting the water. The girls first asked “What is your happy place?” Emily responded by telling the girls about the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. She also spoke about the way species interact with their environments and the ways a trait will be favored given a climate (phenotypic plasticity.) Emily also mentioned her favorite poet, Mary Oliver, and the ways poets speak and relay information about the natural world around us. Lydia finished the interview by taking some candid portrait photos of Emily.
Wild Geese : By Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting over
and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Underwater photography trips are a part of Northwest Passage’s In a New Light: Under the Surface project. The girls love these weekly excursions and the time spent in the water, observing their natural world. The experience includes swimming, learning, and growing closer to understanding a vital aspect of life on earth — water.
Prairieview resident, Siarra, got to see a special member of our ecosystem in action! All thanks to the underwater photography programming here at Northwest Passage and the awesome staff who help guide our kids down a better path every day to ensure they’ll be able to take part in these kinds of unique opportunities.
According to the Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway: “The St. Croix River is known for having a mostly intact mussel population. Meaning, the species that lived here 100 years ago are still the species living here today. This includes 40 species of mussels, five of which are on the endangered species list.” You can learn more on their website here.
Mussel siphoning at the Gordon Dam.
Prairieview girls participated in an educational lesson at Crex Meadows where they learned about Nature Journaling. The girls made their own journals and practiced their observation skills outside.
They played a fun mystery game with objects hidden in brown paper bags.
The girls also had a surprise visit from a deer and her spotted fawn.
They had a great morning! Thank you to Kristy, the nature educator at Crex Meadows, for the fabulous lesson!
Brittany Bosak, Prairieview Teacher
Northwest Passage values teaching residents outside of the traditional classroom. Getting the kids out of chairs and into the world helps to make the learning concepts real and relevant to the world. It allows them to learn through play and experimentation. It exposes them to new opportunities and helps develop their interest in the environment and other surroundings.
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