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

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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Northwest Passage’s Caleb Melton wins Excellence in Service award!

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.
Congratulations Caleb!

Prairieview goes orienteering at Crex Meadows

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.

Passage Foundation awards $6200 to past clients

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:

Rob Lillehaug

Himanshu Agrawal

Seth Pearson

Denny Tucker

Melissa Williams

Terry Larsen

Emily Gall

And Mandy O’Malley (me)

Summer horse therapy session comes to a close

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.

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