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

Artist in Residence: Eric Genuis and Musicians Perform for Kids

THE MESSAGE RESOUNDED THROUGH PASSAGE

Composer, pianist, and performer, Eric Genuis, accompanied by a violinist, cellist, and another singer, returned as an Artist in Residence to play for the kids of Northwest Passage for the second time in eight months. Back in October, Eric and his team played at our Gallery. This time these talented musicians spent their time playing at our Frederic location for over 30 of the kids from our programs.

Eric made the concert interactive by walking among them, asking them questions, and looking to them for questions and comments. His message was about beauty, how music has an influence on each of us, and how we should all surround ourselves with things of hope and encouragement. They played and talked for over two hours.

One of the kids said to the musicians, “your cello reminds me of my mom. It’s like the cello is the mommy, the violin is the kid, and the piano is the foster kid!”

Kristy Echeverria, Northwest Passage Weekend Counselor, describes the experience:

I have worked with kids from all walks of life and every end of the spectrum since 2008. In this time, I have found that they have one particular thing in common, their love and passion for music. It is not only love for music but also the effect that music has on them.

Eric Genuis coming in and playing for the kids at Northwest Passage was an incredible experience. The kids were so engaged and in awe of the beauty that took place. For many of them this was the first time they had heard music that wasn’t playing on the Pop charts.

They responded incredibly well to Eric’s messages. They really absorbed his main message on how what music we put in our brains is the type of output we get. Not only did he demonstrate this by playing three types of music to the same story, but he also discussed his knowledge of other artists. It was wonderful to see their reactions when Eric was able to list off facts about the artists they are currently listening to.

As he spoke, I was able to see a small, fiery passion spark in many of the kids. Several asked questions and a few even had the opportunity to have a small jam session with him after the show.

Eric truly brought an amazing message that seemed to hit home with many. They even continued to discuss it days later. He did a great job, not only performing, but being able to engage in a more personal manner with them. We are truly thankful that he and his musicians took the time to share their talents, passions, and messages.

 

  • All photos and video were shot by Prairieview residents. To learn more about Eric Genuis, check out this VIDEO

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Tune into WPR for Lexie’s take on residential treatment

RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT CHANGES LIVES

When Lexie came to Northwest Passage, she was a diamond in the rough. Under all her pain and trauma was a beautiful individual waiting to become her best self. She exemplifies why we do what we do. We’re not surprised by her successes and we’re certainly not surprised by how eloquently she spoke about her experiences while here at Passage in a recent Wisconsin Public Radio interview. Take a moment to listen to what she has to say about her experience at PASSAGE ON WPR.

CHECK OUT SOME OF LEXIE’S WORK

“Nature has help me find myself, by teaching me about myself.”

Strength

“Anyone can give up, it’s the easiest thing to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength.” ~ I relate to this quote because when life got hard, many people left because I was a ‘lost cause’, I came back a stronger, better, sober person. It would have been easy to give up, quit and go back to old habits, and sometimes I still feel like giving up, but I like who I am. I wouldn’t want to be anybody different.

Mirror

What seems like so long ago I saw someone I hated, a monster staring back at me, not my reflection. But now upon a second look I see someone new, someone beautiful. All it took was another glance, and a little bit of effort to peel back the mask that was plastered on so tight. I look into the mirror now and see me.

Remember

One day I will be old and my skin gray, my hair white as freshly fallen snow, my voice will croak as if I were a frog. One day my days will be numbered, my skin will be wrinkled and creased, my hair may no longer be, and my voice will just be a haunting song. One day I will cease to exist. A few trinkets and odds and ends no home to permanently reside, snippets of memory will play from time to time, but nothing of real value. And given a few more years I will be nothing. Not a distant memory, no words to dance though your mind, nothing will be left except a ghost of me.

LISTEN TO LEXIE’S INTERVIEW ON WISCONSIN PUBLIC RADIO

At Northwest Passage we know the power of residential treatment first hand – we see it every day! Our treatment provides a safe space for kids to heal, the time and support to develop new tools and skills for coping with the stresses of dealing with mental health issues, and provides access to a truly therapeutic lifestyle and environment designed to support long-term wellness into the future. In fact, clients in residential treatment improve significantly and “maintain their treatment gains at follow-up” providing hope for a long-term impact on their overall wellness.

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Horses back on the job

USING METAPHOR TO FACILITATE CHANGE

The warm smell of hay and the sound of hoof beats will once again greet you if you visit the back lot of the Northwest Passage Gallery in Webster.  Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) sessions have resumed for the warm weather season.  EAGALA facilitators Angela Fredrickson and Shannon Brice work on a weekly basis with small groups, families, and individuals from each of the treatment programs at Northwest Passage.

The youth in the treatment programs have been working with the equine therapy team since the first week of May.  They have been exploring their path to sobriety, learning about relationship building, discovering the role of judgment in their lives, and working to find harmony in their living groups with the help of the four-legged practitioners.

This year a new horse has found her way onto the team.  Her late-in-life change in career seems to be an excellent fit as her open, expressive manner has drawn in many residents.  We are early in the season and she has already been described as “the most beautiful animal I have ever seen” and “my best friend.” Alternatively, she has also demonstrated the art of being aware of danger and the complexity of conflict as she works to reflect what has entered the arena space.

What’s up with using horses in therapy anyway?

The use of horses through the EAGALA model is experiential.  This means that participants learn about themselves and others by participating in activities with the horses and then processing or discussing thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, and patterns.  Through active, solution-focused participation, clients can tell their own story and begin to create metaphor that can facilitate change in their lives.

Horses are large and powerful animals which draw our attention.  It requires a level of confidence to interact with them and working to overcome fear in this work can be a useful intervention.  Additionally horses are naturally social animals and are extraordinarily sensitive to non-verbal communication. The horses’ responses give us information that can bring awareness of problem spots in our lives and can help motivate change by being an emotionally safe, external symbol of relationships.  Their responses to us can feel quite familiar to the responses we experience from those in our day-to-day lives making work with horses prime for the creation of metaphor.

Angela Fredrickson, LCSW – Clinical Director

Study on referential communication in horses:

http://www.thehorse.com/articles/37681/study-confirms-horses-talk-to-human-handlers

Link to EAGALA website

http://www.eagala.org/

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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Running Riverside

RIVERSIDE RESIDENT TAKES FIRST OVERALL IN 5K

The Riverside boys ran riverside at the St. Croix Falls, WI, City of Trails Trailrun. A few of our boys ran the 5K race and one even won it! Garrett took first place overall with a time of 18:03.68, with the next racer coming in almost 20 seconds later.

“I started running when I was 13 and never gave it up. I always push through the pain. Today, I showed up expecting to finish in the top five but I took first overall. When I run it feels like it’s me and the course,” Garrett explained.

The City of Trails Trailrun “5K course follows asphalt paths though beautiful woodland, city streets lined with historic houses, and quaint downtown St. Croix Falls. The last leg treks past the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway Visitor Center and alongside the St. Croix River on the Gaylord Nelson Riverwalk to a spectacular finish at the Overlook Deck.” – cityoftrails5k.com

The photos of the participants were taken by a couple of their peers.

Northwest Passage believes healthy bodies help keep healthy minds. Exercise is a central component of treatment in the programs, one being running group. There is a large body of evidence that points to the benefits of exercise and movement in the promotion of both mental health and cognition. Taking part in community races is just one way to get the kids exercising.

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Artists’ Adventures Begin

KIDS WORK WITH ARTIST CAIT IRWIN AT HER SUMMER STUDIO, SCHAEFER CABIN ON THE NAMEKAGON RIVER

In her artist’s bio on the back of the book she wrote when she was sixteen, Cait Irwin said, “…in the future I hope to help others realize the healing power of art and spending time in nature.” Some years later, on the banks of the Namekagon River in a recently restored 90 year old National Park Service cabin, Cait found herself doing just that.

Northwest Passage Riverside, Prairieview, Lakeshore, and Assessment all traveled to Schaefer Cabin this week to start their month of art workshops with Cait. She broke the ice with the groups with a walk down to the river. Afterwards she shared original paintings she had displayed on the cabin walls, the meaning and process behind creating them, and telling the kids that when you create art you are sharing a part of yourself with the world. She then sat down with the kids and talked about her personal story of mental health challenges while sharing one of her books on the subject.

Cait then set the scene for a free-drawing session. Her guidelines: respect your own art, respect the art of others, and let your art share a part of yourself. What ensued with each group was nearly an hour of focused, quiet drawing with nothing but the sounds of birds, the river, and a little classical music in the background.

The kids and Cait spent the remainder of the session discussing what they had drawn and goals for the coming weeks.

Art, for Cait, has always been a passion as well as a powerful coping skill – a means of processing her world and thoughts. In 2013, she started her business, Irwin Artworks where she does everything from pen and ink drawings to massive commissioned murals. For the kids, these trips out to the cabin are a journey into the world of a professional artist and an opportunity to step into a one of a kind, creative environment. There is art and healing in the entire process. Cait says that when the kids can take even thirty minutes out of a day to focus on nothing but drawing, it helps make new connections and gives them a break from the anxieties and distractions of everyday life.

This Artist in Residency is being made possible through a generous grant from the St. Croix Valley Foundation, The Wisconsin Arts Board and Eastern National. More about Cait can be found on her website at www.irwinartworks.com.

Ian Karl, Experiential Programming Coordinator

Join us on Thursday, June 30, from 4 – 6 p.m. in celebrating Cait’s Artist in Residence at an artist reception. We will get to see work the kids did during the month and some of Cait’s original paintings. Look forward to seeing you there!

Northwest Passage cares about the artistic growth of our kids. We invite artists to come in, as an artist in residence, to guide them on journeys of self-expression through the language of art. Cait Irwin is the artist to spend a month working with the kids. If you are an artist interested in volunteering, please visit our Artist in Residence page HERE.

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Prairieview dives deep into photography

RESIDENT DESCRIBES THE FEELING OF BEING UNDERWATER

The girls in the Northwest Passage Prairieview program have officially taken In a New Light (IaNL) off the deep end. This week, seven of the residents were able to embark on a whole new photography adventure and explore life under water. With the scuba and ecology expertise of our friends, Toben Lafrancois and Ian Karl, along with the assistance of two IaNL interns, Megan and Alex, these lucky ladies were able to capture a different world through the lens of a camera.

To say the day didn’t have its bumps would be a lie; when we got to the field it was rainy and cold, and several of the girls struggled to find equipment that would fit.  However; with the use of distress tolerance and radical acceptance, along with other DBT skills the girls have been working on mastering, attitudes quickly changed once in the water. No longer was the rain bothersome or the wetsuits too tight; the tension had been lifted. Not a word was spoken; nor was it needed as the girls floated on the surface of the lake allowing themselves to be consumed by the therapy of the water. My experience as a staff member is far less significant than that of the residents.

Kelly Vogen, Fitness Counselor

Libby, 16, – Prairieview Resident reflects on this first time experience:
“When you have a camera in your hands and curiosity in your heart, everything else suddenly becomes insignificant. It’s just you, the camera, and the world. Fear and anxiety are replaced by curiosity and excitement – you will stop at nothing to get that one shot you want, and your struggles take a backseat as the entirely new world you discover through your lens consumes you.

When you look under the surface for the first time and you see the aquatic menagerie of animals that scurry about just beneath the surface and the plants that sway peacefully in the current, it makes you stop and wonder what else you’ve been missing all this time. You’re no longer worried about what others will think of you, or about an upcoming test that has you stressed, or even financial issues – your ears are tuned into the tranquility of the underwater nothingness, and the sounds of people shouting over one another for no reason or of cars going nowhere fast have been left in an entirely different world.

Before IaNL, anxiety had been gnawing at my insides for years, until there was no peacefulness left. Everything put me on edge, and I had no escape. I was constantly angry for all the sickness I had been plagued with, for all the death I had dealt with, and anything else I could find a reason to be angry with. Through photography, I have been able to discover an inner-calm that I never knew before, and I have been able to focus my energy on capturing the beauty that the world has to offer for those who are willing to see it, instead of focusing on every single way that life has been unfair to me.

Underwater photography is especially meditative, because all you have to do is float and appreciate what surrounds you.”

 

Stop into the Gallery today and see last year’s New Light Under the Surface photography exhibit.

Northwest Passage is dedicated to teaching kids how to live a therapeutic lifestyle. The eight therapeutic lifestyle choices include: nature, recreation, relaxation, nutrition, exercise, relationships, service, and spirit. The New Light Under the Surface programming incorporates many of these choices. It gets the kids in nature. It gives them something recreational to do that they enjoy. It is relaxing for many. It moves their bodies for exercise. It builds relationships through the buddy system. It gives them time to reflect on what matters (spirit).

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Where is Aubrey LeClair?

LOVING HERSELF, USING COPING SKILLS, AND FINISHING HIGH SCHOOL

The portrait above and it’s title “I Love Myself” are big indications of the changes Aubrey has made since graduating from the program. Her case manager at Passage described her as “a kiddo who struggled significantly with hallucinations, suicidal ideation, and low self-worth.”

Aubrey was 14 years old when she was at Northwest Passage, in January 2013. She came to Prairieview struggling with schizoaffective disorder, which is a mental health “condition in which a person experiences a combination of schizophrenia symptoms – such as hallucinations or delusions – and mood disorder symptoms, such as mania or depression” (mayoclinic.org).

Today, Aubrey is attending Harford Union High School half days and helping her mom clean houses after school sometimes. She is getting along with her family very well and they spend a lot of time together doing many things like hiking, taking pictures, making jewelry, and cooking. She has made several friends, who she enjoys spending time with but it can be difficult because Aubrey and her friends are all busy with jobs and schoolwork.

During her stay with us she learned to use coping skills and has discovered that many of them work well for her out in the community. She takes pictures, walks, journals, and uses mindful skills every day.  “If I am nervous in school or at home, or even in busy stores, I use music or deep breathing to stay calm,” explained Aubrey.

Right now she is focused on finishing high school this year and wants to keep pursing photography.

Northwest Passage is mindful of where are kids go after they graduate from our programs. In our nearly 40 years of development, we have learned that real, sustainable change occurs when our clients connect with their community, explore their identity, develop their passions, appreciate time in nature, attend to their relationships, discover effective recreational opportunities, learn healthy nutritional habits, and move their bodies. Many of the kids keep in touch with us and let us know how they are using what they have learned.

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What’s all that racket over at Prairieview and Assessment?

NORTHWEST PASSAGE ADDS SPACE FOR HEALING

We all know how important physical exercise is for us – both physically and mentally. At Passage we work to ensure our kids get ample access to physicality – from kayaking, hiking, and snowshoeing to soccer and basketball. Our kids are able to sweat out their frustrations and enjoy the fun of team sports and the satisfaction of recreation in the great outdoors. We know this helps our kids on their path to healing.

But we can’t always be outdoors in the wilds of Northwestern Wisconsin. Sometimes, we must stay indoors. From storms to frigid temps, the weather isn’t always exactly inviting ’round these parts. It is why we’ve invested in our kids and their health by building space that provides amble indoor room for kids to get active even on the worst of weather days. But we’ve grown in the past few years and we need more of this precious space to best serve our kids. We’re excited to announce that the Prairieview and Assessment programs are now going to have that same resource!

 

We have broken ground at the site of the future Recreation and Wellness Center at Northwest Passage’s Prairieview and Assessment programs in Frederic, Wisconsin!

Northwest Passage is adding a recreation and wellness center at its Frederic property which is home to programs providing residential mental health treatment for youth: a comprehensive assessment program serving kids aged 6-17 and Prairieview, a program for young women aged 12-17. “The Center will provide much needed indoor exercise and recreation space for our kids during the harsh winter months of northwestern Wisconsin,” says Ellen Race, Program Director. But that’s not all – while she envisions the kids utilizing the Center much like a traditional gym, they’ll also be using it to learn about health and wellness as well as utilizing the space to connect to nature through use of Passage’s environmental based educational curriculum, provided by the University of Wisconsin Arboretum, Earth Partnerships for Schools.

Race also notes that the space will, “bring many components of our programming together in one space allowing for greater connections between everything from science to physical health.” Medical Director, Dave Ammend, agrees, noting that “the Center will strengthen our healthy living programming immensely. By affording year-round access to a safe and comfortable setting for exercise, recreation, and relaxation – our kids’ access to healthy activities will double.” Ian Karl, Experiential Programming Coordinator, says of Passage, “healing happens everywhere at Passage, not just the doctor’s office or the therapist’s couch, it is so much more than that. If we can provide our kids with the tools they need to be the best versions of themselves, we’ll see greater success in their lives’ long-term. That is why having a space like the gym will prove to be so important.”

The average stay at Northwest Passage’s Frederic programs vary – residents of Prairieview stay an average of nine months, while kids at Assessment are in treatment for 30-days. Combined, the programs serve approximately 200 kids annually from across the state and nation. Northwest Passage has been providing innovative mental health services for nearly forty years, 22 of which have been at Frederic.

One resident said she can’t wait to play basketball even on rainy days, “I just feel better when I’m active, so on days we can’t be outside – it is hard to be my best self.”

Locus Architecture, of Minneapolis, is leading the design of the project. Executive Director Mark Elliott has this to say about the design, “we are excited about the versatile space Locus has designed and the unlimited benefits it will provide our kids. It is a long overdue project that will be a great resource for our staff and kids.”

The building is being constructed in conjunction with Dave Anderson Construction Company of Webster and Passage’s own in-house construction team Randy and Wes Hedrick. This project is expected to be completed in September of this year.

Northwest Passage has secured funding for the project through local lender, Frandsen Bank & Trust. Passage depends on funds from donors, grants, and service fees. Please consider making a donation and impacting the lives of our kids today.

For more information about Northwest Passage, call Marceleen Mosher at 715-309-4257 or visit us at nwpltd.org.

WANT TO HELP BUILD OUR NEW SPACE?

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We are accepting donations of all sizes as we build the best space possible for our kids. Buy a brick, a yoga mat, or chip in for the general building costs – every little bit counts! We’d just like to count you among our supporters.

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Under the Surface is BACK

THE KIDS ARE BACK IN THE WATER

Thanks to the support of our 2015 Kickstarter campaign; an amazing $50,000 grant from Sea Grant, the aquatic world’s research arm; and the continued investments of the National Park Service Submerged Resources Center – New Light Under the Surface is back and stronger than ever. In addition to another season of exploration of the mystery of the great below, we will be partnering with the National Park Service Submerged Resources Center to investigate the Dry Tortugas at the end of the season.

New Light Under the Surface has made quite the splash in the water world – famed ocean scientist and New York Times bestselling author, Wallace Nichols, invited Northwest Passage to speak at the sixth annual Blue Mind conference in California where water innovators from around the country gather to celebrate the power of our most precious substance on earth. Ben and Toben traveled to the conference with the special guest – John, a past client in love with the under water world. Fellow Blue Mind Six conference attendee, Sea Change Design founder Lauralee Alben, profiled us in a recent article What’s at Risk?. Our project partner, Toben LaFrancois,wrote a fantastic piece Diary of an Aquatic Scientist that sums up just why we do what we do.

Thank you to everyone who has supported New Light Under the Surface – now come check out the fruits of the kids’ labor at our latest exhibit: New Light Under the Surface at Northwest Passage’s Gallery, just one mile south of Webster, WI on Highway 35.

WE’D LOVE TO SHOW OFF OUR NEWEST EXHIBIT TO YOU! Visit the Gallery today!

Northwest Passage is dedicated to the recreational care of our kids. After the first year of New Light Under the Surface, we discovered that many of the kids who had the chance to dive into the water to do underwater photography, found an activity that they enjoyed. We strive to find recreational activities that the kids love and will continue to do after they graduate from our programs.

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How strong are Popsicle sticks?

POPSICLE BRIDGES SPAN THE DISTANCE BETWEEN LEARNING AND FUN

Lakeshore kids were paired up to work together and construct a bridge out of 200 Popsicle sticks. They were graded on how much weight their bridge could hold, the aesthetics of the bridge, and the number of Popsicle sticks used. After the bridges were tested, the groups reflected on their experience and what they would have done differently if they did the project again.

The goals of this activity were to have the kids develop an understanding of planning, construction, problem solving, teamwork, and bridge structure.

Austin Elliott, Lakeshore Outdoor Experiential Educator

 

Northwest Passage teachers and staff are dedicated the education of our kids. They choose to use many different kinds of activities to teach many different subjects. Building bridges from Popsicle sticks teaches geometry and measurement through hands-on work instead of a text book, along with planning and construction. Working in teams teaches the kids best practices for relationship building through teamwork and problem solving. Reflections help the kids to think things through better in the future. Looking at the strength of objects is also a reminder of how strong they are.

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