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Filmmaking Project at Northwest Passage I

This past few months marked the beginning of a very fun new project at Northwest Passage I – filmmaking!

Eight boys worked as teams and individually to execute 8 amazing short films. There was no limit to their creativity; some boys chose to create fictional narratives while others chose to film more documentary style projects.

Spearheaded by staff member Ben Treichel and intern Abi Leveille, the results of their hard work are astonishing. In December, the InaNewLight Gallery held a film premier, where over 25 people came out to view the films.

Steve Ammend, NWP Co-Founder, talks with one of the young filmmakers after the showing.Ben Treichel speaks to the audience about the filmmaking project.Over 25 people, mostly staff members,  came to show their support for the boys' project

We’ll be releasing one new short film each week! The first film, “BINGO” by Alex is so fun – with impeccable comedic timing!

Northwest Passage Receives Grant from the Green Bay Packers Foundation



Mark Elliott (right) shaking hands with Mark Murphy, President and CEO of the Green Bay Packers

WEBSTER, Wisconsin: Northwest Passage has been awarded a grant from the Green Bay Packers Foundation to create a “therapeutic playscape” at their Webster residential treatment center.

Mark Elliott, Northwest Passage’s executive director comments, “the power of play is often an overlooked piece in children’s mental health, and here is a profound link between physical and emotional health. This playscape affords our kids the opportunity to discover their own creativity and imagination, while also promoting a healthy and active lifestyle.” Featuring a (more…)

It’s Magical, but it’s not Magic: Equine Assisted Interventions

Angela Frederickson, LCSW

by Angela Fredrickson, LCSW  |  Clinical Director

I have been inexplicably fascinated by horses for as long as I can remember. By the age of 13, I had pestered my parents (who did not have much of their own experience with horses) enough that they purchased me my very own horse. This has lead to a life in which I have always been in the presence of horses. My horses have helped to lift me out of despair and have been the source of great joy for me. They have been with me at every turn and they have inspired my career path.

I first witnessed horses helping humans in a planned and deliberate manner when I was 16 years old. I had the opportunity to observe a therapeutic riding session in which a tiny, vulnerable looking little girl was lifted from her wheelchair and onto the back of a horse. (more…)

Northwest Passage and Healthy Burnett kick off Mental Health Rally Week

Each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition. During the first full week of October, NAMI and participants across the country are bringing awareness to mental illness. Each year we fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for equal care. Each year, the movement grows stronger.

We believe that these issues are important to address year round, but highlighting these issues during Mental Illness Awareness Week provides a time for people to come together and display the passion and strength of those working to improve the lives of the tens of millions of Americans affected by mental illness. (


For the past two years, Northwest Passage has hosted an internal destigmatization campaign, dubbed “I am STRONGER than you think”. Our goal was to empower the youth that we work with to see themselves through a lens of strength and hope – too many times, these young people have been defined by their diagnosis – not by who they are as a person. They are strong and courageous, resilient and hopeful. They are changing our world for the better.  (more…)

September 10th 2014 | National Prevent Suicide Day

by: Iris Ostensen

Take a moment to look inside yourself and inquire-would I know what to do if a friend or family member began talking about suicide. One of the biggest issues we face in the mental health field is the stigma associated with mental illness/wellness. So many people forget it is no different than medical illness/wellness however lacks many of the same services and does not hold the same influence of recovery as other illnesses. Be a stigma breaker!! Talk about mental health talk about suicidal thoughts and feelings. For the remainder of this month I will provide some insight/ideas on things we can do. For starters let’s just start talking to one another. 

Here are some conversation starters, courtesy of

  • Reassure them. Let them know that they are not alone; that you care and will continue to support them.
  • Encourage them to open up. Reassure them that it is ok to talk openly about how they’re feeling.
  • Listen carefully. Resist the urge to give advice or talk about your own experiences.
  • Read up. Learn about their particular disorder to better understand what they may be experiencing.
  • Stay in touch. Continuously reach out through regular phone calls, texts, Face book messages and visits to help them feel less isolated.
  • Be persistent. Invite them to dinner, movies, sporting events and other activities. Even if they refuse at first, continue to issue invitations periodically.
  • Engage them in healthy activities. Invite them to stay involved in healthy and fun activities such as hobbies or sports. Offer to go on a walk together. Event talk to them about the importance of eating right, drinking lots of water and getting sleep.
  • Talk about the future. People who are experiencing a mental illness may have feelings of hopelessness and have trouble seeing beyond their current state.
  • Be patient. Don’t push for too much too soon. Understand that they have a legitimate medical condition and that healing takes time.
  • Acknowledge improvements. Point out small signs of progress, such as saying, “It was nice to see you at the mall again last week.”
  • Don’t ignore remarks about suicide. Take immediate action if your friend or family member appears to be in crisis.


At the Passage III Gardens, We’re Cultivating More than Plants

“Gardening is for old people,” one of the girls complained, with exasperated look at the ceiling and an emphatic wave of her hands. It was time for Sustainable Living Group and the girls weren’t happy. We were about to head outside to pull weeds and prep the beds for herbs and cauliflower starts. They had yet to understand why this was an activity they should look forward to. “Gardening isn’t just for old people,” I said. “It’s for everyone!”

Gorgeous sunflower on a summer day. Photo by Tiff.

Beautiful view of a sunflower.

This was a rather weak initial response and I didn’t quite know how to clearly and convincingly articulate this to the girls. At that point, it was most likely that they took my reply as an overly peppy intern’s attempt to sell the upcoming activity, which, I admit, was not a completely inaccurate assessment. But, regardless of how my response was interpreted, I really meant it—gardening is, indeed, for everyone. (more…)

PBS NewsHour features Northwest Passage’s In a New Light

Earlier this year, Northwest Passage’s In a New Light program was featured in an episode of Wisconsin Life – we were so honored and grateful to have been given such an amazing platform to showcase the talents of our kids.

In our wildest dreams, we never imagined that NWP and In a New Light would garner national attention for the spot.

But guess what happened!? PBS NewsHour picked up the WPT Wisconsin Life spot, and gave it (and us) new legs! What a fantastic opportunity to reach people throughout the country and even worldwide, and we couldn’t be more excited!

Icing on the cake? Yesterday, PBS NewsHour’s Facebook Page shared the article for all 287,000 of their followers – resulting in almost 100 shares across the social media platform. Wow.

We are beyond humbled, and incredibly excited to share this with you:


Read the article here

Second Chance: In a New Light Revives Historical Schaefer Cabin

When Branda Thwaits, National Park Service Ranger, heard talk about possibly halting upkeep of Schaefer Cabin, she knew something had to be done. It was a special spot for her and for her husband, Ben, and its sturdy log walls, set high on the banks of the Namekagon, had seen almost a hundred years of history float by. Constructed in 1927, Schaffer Cabin is at once a portal to the past and a place that sits firmly in summertime—all year round. It was constructed as part of the popular middle class movement of the early 1900s to spend summer away from the city, surrounded by nature and engaged in plenty of outdoor recreation. (more…)

RAD and Butterflies

Angela Frederickson, LCSW

Angela Frederickson, LCSW – Clinical Director NWP

I have spent countless hours preparing eloquent presentations of the attachment process and what could go wrong with this process for parents.  I speak about the beautiful and dynamic interplay between child and caregiver through those first moments of life and into early childhood that create and prune connections within the brain.  I educate about how this process creates a loving, reciprocal, and emotionally insightful individual in the best of circumstances; that our brains are set to receive this developmental process, but are not preprogrammed to function in this way in the absence of a healthy reciprocal relationship.  I then work to very carefully validate the experience of disappointment, heartbreak and even horror when trying to parent a child whose attachment process has been disrupted by abuse, neglect, or parental mental illness.  (more…)

Ethan’s story…

We could write a million things about Ethan – his passion for the outdoors and photography, his kind heart and amazing talents…Like all of the kids we serve at Northwest Passage, Ethan became our kid for the short time he was in our program. His successes became our successes, and reinforced that hopeful feeling that the children and teens we serve are worth so much investment.


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