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What is experimental design?

The Prairieview girls are learning about the scientific method and experimental design in science! The girls have completed several science labs and are working on their own science projects for the upcoming science fair. They spent a morning learning about scientific research in the real world from Northwest Passage’s own, Ben Thwaits.

Ben worked as a Biologist prior to his employment with Northwest Passage with a Masters in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior with a neuroscience minor from the University of Minnesota. He has completed research from the Wisconsin Northwoods to India. He spoke about his experiences with science and the integration of science and art.  Ben focused his presentation on a three-year project he completed on Lake Superior studying homing mechanisms in trout and salmon.

The girls were engaged and intrigued as they saw the diversity of experimental design and the tasks that research scientists endure. Thank you Ben for coming to talk to us and sharing your experience and passion for science!

Brittany Bosak, Prairieview Teacher


Science is one of the many subjects that Northwest Passage teachers focus on in their classrooms every day of the week. Science helps to teach students how and why things work the way that they do. Science teaches a wide variety of concepts. It can help those at Northwest Passage to understand many different mechanics and functioning of complex systems.

Cardboard + Duct Tape = Boats?

The Northwest Passage Riverside boys ended their summer with some cardboard and water fun! The kids spent time in school learning about different boats and how things float. To bring the lesson to a close, the boys created their own life-size cardboard boats to take out on the open water.

 

Prairieview Super Heroines Run in Monster Dash

On Friday October 20, the Prairieview ladies ran the 5K Monster Dash in Cumberland, WI.  The ladies have been training hard, getting up early to run during the week.   They have demonstrated such dedication, it seems, due to having something to look forward to (mastery), while running also helps to regulate emotions and improve mood.  The group decided on being super heroines, to celebrate empowerment and self-acceptance.

Lisa Courchaine, CAPSW, Mental Health Clinician

 


At Northwest Passage, our mental health clinician’s go beyond just typical office therapy in working with our youth. They like to incorporate all of the many things that help to keep people mentally healthy, including physical activity. The mind and body are connected, so when one is healthy the other is healthier too. It is much easier to deal with life’s problems and challenges when your body is active because it lifts your mood. Physical activity can also act an antidepressant.

Riverside Citizen Scientists!

The residents of Northwest Passage Riverside were given an awesome opportunity to volunteer their time to the St. Croix National Scenic River way. Through the “Citizen Science” project, the Algae Alert Network, select residents of NWP Riverside traveled to Norway Point Landing, located on the St. Croix River, from July and September,  to study the presence of  Algal blooms on the river way.
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Riverside paints St. Olaf College

Our talented intern, Jae Mawby, just wrapped up the development of Riverside’s pottery programming. As a special opportunity for the young men she worked with in this endeavor, she arrange for four of her students to visit her college, St. Olaf.
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A letter to my boys (thoughts from a therapist)

Dear Boys,

Hey you, yeah you, I’m talking to you.  It’s okay if you roll your eyes, sigh and cast your head down, I know you’re listening.  I have got a few things I’d like to tell you…

Yes, you are tough.  You are tough not because of your battle scars, your stoic emotional expression or the beginnings of your man beard.  YOU ARE TOUGH because no matter how many unfortunate and unfair situations come your way, you keep moving forward and somehow in that moving forward you allow a little light of hope into your world.  And no matter how terrifying that little light of hope may be, you allow it to grow, little by little and day by day until it becomes a small flame inside your soul.

I see you.  I see who you are as a person, as a soul.  Not your diagnosis, your behavioral history, your daily charting or even “your potential.”  I see you now, in this moment.  I see that you have developed strengths and uniqueness that no one else in this universe possesses.  I see that the way you have developed has been in response to all sorts of adversity in a society that does not fully understand your needs.  This way of developing has been in an attempt to survive, not in a manner to be hostile, manipulative or scary.

You are not bad.  You are not “born bad.”  You are not born broken.  You are as whole and pure as me or any other human being.  It’s just that your life experience hasn’t let you see or feel that.  You carry a shame that is not yours to carry and I thank you for the moments you take that shame out of your heavy backpack and place it on the floor in front of us.

You make me laugh.  You bring a joy into my heart that cannot be explained or experienced in any other way.  You remind me to play and be silly, in a way that allows my stress to flow away from me and invites a sense of fun and curiosity that only you can bring.

You teach me.  Yes, I learn from you.  I learn how to trust.  I learn from you how to be vulnerable.  I learn from you how to believe in change, even when believing in that change shakes you to your core.

You always have a choice, young man.  Yes, I am likely lecturing this to you each day, but only because it’s true.  You have a personal power so great, it can change your world and the world around you.

You.  Are.  Loved.

Hillary Giller, MA, Mental Health Therapist

The Boats Float

This week Northwest Passage’s Child and Adolescent Center’s older group of residents completed a boat-building lesson. They started this project by researching how to make model boats. They were then given 150 Popsicle sticks to use in building a structure that could float. They were also able to use other available materials if they chose to. After finishing their floating structures the kids went to the river for a friendly race. The boats were placed behind a stick and the stick was lifted to let them all go at the same time. They floated down the river in order to find the winner. After the race, the students gathered together and discussed which structure went the fastest and why. This project-based teaching allowed the students to see how things work firsthand.

Caleb Melton, Child & Adolescent Center Teacher 

Each Northwest Passage program has a classroom and teachers. These teachers strive to educate the residents in many different ways. They value 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 an interest in the environment.

Prairieview resident organizes activities to raise awareness of depression and suicide

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:

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/suicide-prevention/suicide-help-dealing-with-your-suicidal-thoughts-and-feelings.htm

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention/index.shtml

http://www.sprc.org/

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.

Meet the horse therapy staff

Adios

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

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

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.

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