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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.

Lakeshore boys see their lives in nature

The boys of Lakeshore reflect on how their photos relate to their lives.

Lakeshore-Dominic-16-Busy (Bee Picture)

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.

Lakeshore-Dominic-16-Colors (Wood Frog)

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.

Lakeshore-Dominic-16-Soak (Frog Picture)

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.

Lakeshore-Dominic-16-Uneasy

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.

Lakeshore-Martin-deep-blue-bass

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.

Lakeshore-Martin-Sunrise-Swan

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.

tree

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.

tire

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!!!

Lakeshore-Jesse-IMG_0468 Lakeshore-James-Robert Lakeshore-Dominic-16-Log Lakeshore-Dominic-16-Flower Lakeshore-Jesse-IMG_9144 _MG_0316

Other photos taken by the talented youth residing at Northwest Passage Lakeshore. For even more photos please visit: http://inanewlight.org/.

 

 

Women of the Valley goes underwater

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.

Prairieview-WOV-Emily

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.

Mussel in Action

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.

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Nature Ed at Crex Meadows

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.

Under the Surface showing in Cable

An exhibit featuring the New Light Under the Surface photographs was recently held at the Cable Natural History Museum. Several of the kids got the chance to showcase their talents and gain some well-deserved pats on the back.

The girls each showed off photographs they had taken under the surface and gave moving speeches about their underwater experience.

See other underwater photos on the online gallery at: New Light Under the Surface.

Riverside boys find the beauty in nature

The riverside boys have spent a lot of time outdoors working on their nature photography. They have become very good at spotting natural beauty. Here are just a few of the many pictures they have taken this summer.

Riverside-Flower

I like this picture because it is one of my better pictures and I spent like 10 minutes just getting the light and stuff just perfect. This picture is a result of a lot of hard work.

– Passage Resident

Riverside-sun-reflection

I like this picture because it looks like I am inside some weird science fiction movie. This picture was taken accidentally because I didn’t know how it would turn out. And it reminds me how I thought coming to Passage was a big mistake but it turned out not to be a mistake.

– Passage Resident


See other beautiful shots they have taken. Visit inanewlight.org to see more.

Riverside boys get muddy in Savage Dash

The Riverside boys got the chance to participate in the Savage Dash (AKA Mud run) held in Spooner, Wisconsin over the weekend. The Dash is a 5K run that features various muddy obstacles and lots of fun throughout the course.

As the residents at Passage move through our treatment programs, they have many opportunities for growth. When the kids do especially well, they earn special privileges, like participating in public events like the Savage Dash. Two of our boys, Carlos and Garret, have earned this opportunity and were able to compete over the weekend. Carlos and Garret have have done a great job in showing respect for themselves and others and they are willing to participate in all activities in the program. Well done guys!

One of their staff members, Xavier, ran alongside them throughout the race. Garret finished strong coming in sixth overall, but all three who competed had a great time and were covered in mud by the end of it.

Two other boys, Holden and Mathanial, also had an opportunity to partake in the festivities – they stood on the sidelines cheering on their peers and capturing the event through the lens of cameras.

Mike Brown, Riverside Supervising Staff


Northwest Passage thinks community is important and we incorporate this into our programs. We like to get the residents participating in community events to show them the love and support that comes from being a part of a community. It shows them that when they are part of a community, they are not alone. It also helps them build their communication skills.

Prairieview harvests a healthy snack

The ladies at Prairieview started a garden this spring and they just harvested the fruits, or should we say vegetables, of their labor.  The girls were able to harvest some fresh green beans, cucumbers, zucchini, and broccoli, giving them organic and fresh produce to serve for their evening snack.

They also grated up some zucchini and froze it to make bread, cake, and other goodies over the fall and winter.

The peppermint, spearmint and chamomile should be ready soon for the group to make a calming tea after they are harvested.

After gaining this gardening experience, the group may also try experimenting with growing hoops this fall.

Tracey Mofle, Prairieview Weekend Primary Staff


Growing and harvesting a garden teaches the residents of Northwest Passage many things. It teaches them a respect for the environment and shows them where their food comes from. It teaches them to care and nurture the plants.  It gets them eating healthy. It teaches them to work together to reach a goal.

Girls finish strong in 5K

Three Prairieview girls participated in the third annual Webster Education Foundation 5K on Saturday, August 8. The Webster Education Foundation funds enrichment projects in Webster that enhance educational programs; it was a great event for the girls to participate in!

Week after week, the three girls got up earlier than any of their peers in order to train for the event. They started the race at the Webster High School at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning and each of them finished in the top of their age groups. Ndolo (No. 169) finished first in her age group, Alexis (No. 170) finished second in her age group, and Lydia (No. 173) finished second in her age group.

They showed dedication in both training and participating. Several members of the staff ran alongside the girls while others greeted them at the finish line, supporting them every step of the way.


Physical activity is a priority at all Northwest Passage programs because regular physical activity is not only good for the kids’ bones and muscles, but it also helps to reduce feelings of depression and anxiety and promote overall psychological well-being.

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