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

Interview with a Pioneer

RETURNING PIONEER PLAYER NAMED TEAM CAPTAIN

ARTICLE CONTRIBUTED BY COACH TAYLOR MATHIAS

I recently sat down with Candus, one of my players from last season’s inaugural basketball season. Candus has been in Northwest Passage’s Prairieview program since March of 2017 and is hoping she can stick around a little while longer to be part of this basketball season too.

When asked about what she is most looking forward to as the new season approaches, Candus stated, “I’m excited to see who we have this year for players. With new players comes excitement and I am ready to see what this new team has in the tank. I think we will have a lot of potentials.”

Candus has made strides in her treatment since being at Northwest Passage. She has been setting goals for herself along the way, and that included goals for this upcoming season. Candus wasn’t shy about her goal. “I’ve been practicing all year for this new season. I’ve been working on my three-pointers a lot and I think I can provide a spark like Mariah and Malia,” Candus explained. Mariah and Malia were our top guards from last season, who led our team in scoring with 32 and 30 points, respectively. As Candus nodded to, they also led the Pioneers in three-point field goals made.

When asked about some of the most exciting moments from last season, I was expecting a story about a great shot Candus made or the time she got hit in the face and got a black eye, but she surprised me with an off-the-court story. “I’m really looking forward to writing pen pal letters to the Cedar kids. It was fun interacting with them last season. It was eye-opening how much those little ones looked up to us because we were part of a team,” said Candus with a smile on her face.

One of the most difficult aspects of forming the Pioneers is the fact that the team is always changing. Over the course of last season, we had 20 different players on the team at one point or another. That’s the nature of a team in a treatment setting. Candus agreed, “The transition of players on the team was a lot to handle last season, but you have to keep grinding and focusing on yourself. I am really hoping for more consistency within the team this season.”

Just as basketball is a team sport, it takes a team of staff to push residents toward their goals whether they’re part of a team like the Pioneers or not. Candus had this to say about some of her staff, “Kim and Jenny have helped me a lot in the off-season by pushing me to stay in shape. Fitness class has definitely been an area that I no longer dread and I now look forward to. And of course, whenever I get the chance to shoot hoops—I do!”

To wrap up our conversation, I informed Candus that she will most likely be one of the only returning players from last season. I also let her know she would be the Pioneers’ team captain for the 2018-2019 season. Candus’s face lit up and was ecstatic when I told her. “There is going to be a lot of leadership involved, that’s for sure. I will push myself and encourage my teammates during practice and games, and even off the court. I won’t let the team down,” stated Candus with confidence.

The start to the new season is up around the bend and there is plenty of excitement from not only Candus but other residents and staff around Northwest Passage. Our first official practice kicks off November 6th and be on the lookout for our schedule coming out in the next couple of months.

Go Pioneers!

WATCH CANDUS AND THE REST OF THE PIONEERS PLAY!

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Pioneer basketball is making an impact – one kid at a time

TEAMWORK, TENACITY, AND TRIUMPH ON THE COURT ARE TRANSFORMATIVE

Mariah is a shy 14-year-old girl who could be described as a wallflower. A person who preferred to exist quietly in the background, a bit apprehensive and frequently relying on others to take the lead.

People would not know this while watching her on the court with her basketball team. Mariah was a leader on the Northwest Passage Pioneers basketball team that started last year. She is still working on stepping up vocally but she was the first to shoot or go after the ball and with low numbers on the team, was always willing to play the entire 24 minutes.

“Mariah is one of the hardest working players on the team,” her coach Taylor said. “She is the point guard, has a knack for the ball, great ball control, and is a great defender, leading the team in steals after three games.”

Through basketball, Mariah found an outlet to explore some of her capabilities, both athletically and on a deeper, personal level. She not only learned to work together with a team but she explored her own independence, perseverance, and resilience.

“Basketball, here at Passage, means a lot to me,” Mariah explained. “I’m so proud to be able to play in an actual game again. I like that I can play as a team again and just have fun playing with my peers. When I play basketball it helps me release my stress and all the negativity I have going on.”

The Pioneers team was a therapeutic experience for Mariah. She was forced to sit with the distress or discomfort she may have been feeling, while also staying in the exact moment she was in, not thinking about the past or the future, and working on improving her skills in order to master the sport. Each of these things is a fundamental piece of the dialectical behavioral therapy she learned at Northwest Passage.

“Mariah glows when she is on the court and her pride is positively tangible,” Gina describes. “As her therapist, I am hopeful that as she moves forward, the benefits of basketball will not only continue while she is here but also long after she transitions into the community.”

IF YOU’D LIKE TO SEE THE PIONEERS IN ACTION – COME TO A GAME!

Basketball is a healthy, recreational activity that falls under the PassageWay elements for living a therapeutic lifestyle, which Mariah learned every day. Mariah will be able to find basketball anywhere from urban areas to rural farmlands as she moves forward from Northwest Passage. It will help her make healthier lifestyle choices, build relationships, and avoid old patterns such as substance abuse or other conduct issues.

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Moving the Body to Move the Mind

Exercise gives the teens a positive way to cope with emotions, experiences, and stress.  Here at Northwest Passage we try to incorporate the Passageways into everything we do. The Razzle Dazzle Groove Squad [RDGS] exemplified this during their performances, showing the benefits of exercise on the mind and positive personal development. Connecting the mind and the body helps us to be in tune with our needs. There are both mental and emotional benefits to exercise: sharper memory and thinking, higher self-esteem, better sleep, more energy, and stronger resilience. Exercise releases tensions in the body; when your body feels better your mind will too.

The Razzle Dazzle Groove Squad is a group that meets on a weekly basis to promote mastery, healthy emotional release, empowerment, confidence, nonjudgmental attitude toward self and others, and self-expression through dance. Dancing is a positive outlet giving the girls a way to get more comfortable within their own skin, express their emotions and experiences within a creative condition, gain mastery, increase their self-esteem and overall positive emotions as well as offer yet another healthy exercise means. RDGS is a place where the teens can experience liberation and emotional release in a healthy and sustainable way. Through dance, the teens are given the opportunity to take ownership and to be creative in their treatment, working through challenges and healing.

Thanks to your support, Northwest Passage is able to give the teens positive outlets and therapeutic moments like this. The RDGS would like to thank everyone that came to their performance and all the help along the way. This was a memorable experience for many reasons and they thank everyone for their support. They couldn’t do this without you, and hope you enjoyed it as much as the girls did!

“Razzle Dazzle Groove Squad is a place where teens can learn, grow, and obtain mastery. It is a place to deepen the relationship with self, while also being part of a group; a collective group that is brave enough to practice being non-judgmental and expressive. At RDGS, we dance to express not to impress.”–Lisa

“Razzle Dazzle Groove Squad is a safe and truly supportive environment for teenage girls to come together, step outside of their comfort zone, challenge and encourage one another while all expressing their thoughts and emotions in an experiential platform. Seeing the girls glow during and after their performance is an affirmation of the value of what we do for and with them.” –Gina

Winter Games Come to Passage!

The spirit of the Olympics spread throughout the building as a part of a staff-initiated effort!

Walking through the halls of Prairieview and Assessment the last few weekends you’d have heard a lot more laughter and bustle coming from the units. Kids and staff alike were all in on the Olympic games this year thanks to some above and beyond effort from the weekend direct care providers. “The Olympics are a special time where the whole world stops and comes to gather to celebrate what humanity can accomplish despite our differences. We wanted to make sure the kids had an opportunity to learn about different cultures represented at the games, celebrate diversity and unity, and most importantly just have fun!” Amanda Leckel, weekend staffer explains. Adam Parker, added, “We included activities for all levels, the arts, education, and even ethnic foods in the planning.” Adam, “And of course, a little healthy completion.”

Five units competed in a variety of contests like those listed below and earned points across three weekends. And it was a hit! Adam says of the Passage Winter Games, “I loved seeing the kids cheer one another on during the competition. It made everything we did to make these events happen worth it. We know how important relationships are to these kids and any chance we have to bring them together to work toward a common cause is a chance worth taking.” Amanda says, All of the kiddos put in a lot of effort and it was a blast watching them try new things and learn about their assigned countries.”

  • Ethnic snacks
  • Snow structure building
  • Skating
  • Unity Poetry contest
  • Artist poster chronicling the experience
  • Unit decorating
  • Flag creation and design competition
  • Obstacle course
  • Medicine ball throw
  • Sledding relay
  • Photo Booth
  • Snowshoeing

 

Doing these events helped me realize that I really can contribute something valuable to a cause bigger than myself.

Prairieview Resident

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AND THE WINNERS ARE

Program coordinator, Amanda Lundquist said of the events, “As a program coordinator, I’m grateful for the staff who show great creativity and initiative to bring opportunities like these to our kiddos. Amanda and Adam stepped up and made all of this possible through hard work, planning, and collaboration. I was thrilled to see what fun the kids had.”

New Wellness Center

Northwest Passage is celebrating its increased capacity for serving children and families at its Frederic location this week with an Open House. The Prairieview and Assessment programs have gained a new Wellness Center, complete with a gym and both an outdoor and indoor classroom, and Prairieview added a new unit. The event will be held Thursday, August 24 from 3:30 – 5:30 pm at the new Wellness Center at 201 United Way in Frederic.

Situated at the south edge of town, Northwest Passage operates two mental health residential treatment programs serving youth struggling with mental illness ages 6-17. Ellen Race says of the programs, “treatment deals with everything from their physical and mental health, academics, and fun. Adding a facility like the Wellness Center provides greater quality of care, rain or shine.” As a part of the Wellness Center expansion, Northwest Passage has committed to providing an immersive, environmentally themed, project-based educational curriculum.

The students will work with a number of pollinator friendly projects throughout the year. They will work to assist Northwest Passage in the restoration of a portion of its land to native prairie grasses through multiple projects such as the St. Croix Master Watershed Stewards rain garden initiative and the National Park Service’s Pollinator Pledge. They will work directly with pollinators through service at Horst M. Rechelbacher Foundation’s pollinator lab, by tending to their own beehive. They will also grow pollinator dependent fruits and vegetables in their own gardens thanks to St. Croix Valley Foundations support and make pollinator friendly art projects – all of which will be on display at Thursday’s open house.

Tours will also be given of the newest unit at Prairieview. “We’re excited to be showing off our new unit in our Prairieview program,” says executive director Mark Elliott. “There is a dramatic shortage of residential mental health services in the state and all over the county. This expansion does a small part in reaching that need. It allows us to pursue our mission with even more kids.”

Northwest Passage would like to thank the St. Croix Valley Foundation as a number of these projects received funding from the SCVF and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin.

For more details about the event, please visit our events page at nwpltd.org/events. To RSVP please call us at 715-327-4402 or visit our Facebook page.

Resources: Photos courtesy of Dillon Vibes

 

New Research Supports Efforts at Passage

BEHAVIORAL THERAPY PAIRED WITH PSYCHOTHERAPY REDUCES SELF-HARM

We see evidence of the power of residential treatment paired with living a therapeutic lifestyle in our clients progress towards mental health up close and personal, but it is always nice to read research to support that experience. This year, a Norwegian study found that using “behavioral therapy that teaches coping skills, used in conjunction with psychotherapy, not only significantly reduces self-harm among adolescents but also more rapidly leads to recovery from suicidal ideation and depression than enhanced usual care.”

Program Director, Ellen Race, says that “we are always happy to see evidence that supports what we are doing for our clients.” The specific therapy addressed in the article is one that Northwest Passage uses in its Prairieview and Riverside programs, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). DBT is, “a type of therapy that focuses on developing the behaviors skills and coping mechanisms for our kiddos so that they can navigate life’s challenges in a healthy and sustainable way.” Angela Fredrickson, Clinician Director for Riverside explains. She goes on to say that, “DBT is a part of our efforts to promote the skills and experiences necessary to commit to living a therapeutic lifestyle long after treatment ends. We are giving access to our clients to practice living a healthy lifestyle and DBT fits right in with that. It is grounded in mindfulness, being active and expressive in a healthy way, and building healthy relationships – which are key elements necessary to live therapeutically.”

To learn more about the PassageWay and living a therapeutic lifestyle, please visit our website and to read the article summarizing the research in full, please visit the Medscape article: Self-harm in Teens: Rapid Response With Novel Behavior Therapy. 

We know it is essential to pair expert psychotherapy with the tools necessary to make change, it is something we do every single day with our kids. Our guiding principles are articulated through the PassageWay, which proposes that the journey to building a healthy lifestyle includes the building of skill and insight through psychotherapy intervention, the judicious use of psychotropic medication, and a commitment to providing access to therapeutic lifestyle moments for our clients to actively heal and practice being well.

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We’ve Got the Beat

CONNECTING TO A THERAPEUTIC LIFESTYLE THROUGH DANCE

A natural passion for dance struck the halls of Prairieview this winter, it quickly blossomed into a therapeutic phenomenon. We have learned throughout our history of therapeutic interventions with youth that people heal through a variety of channels. We know 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 recreation opportunities, learn healthy nutritional habits, and move their bodies. Often those things can come together in powerful ways. Join the young women of Prairieview as they build relationships, develop strength and stamina, and rejoice in dance.

See below for the origin story of this joy filled feat of self expression taking place right here.

The Birth of a Legend

This year, Prairieview found itself in the midst of a dance phenomenon. The girls spent their down time dancing to music, dancing to the Wii games for fitness, and on the weekends they began requesting further dance fitness routines. There was spinnin’, poppin’, and jumpin’ on both units. Girls began protesting; requesting (if not downright begging) for dance competitions. With these given talents and interests of the girls, as well as the innate therapeutic value of dance, our psychological interest was perked. Plotting, proposing and planning began as the co-founders established the goals, mission and purpose. As the New Year was born, so was Prairieview’s Razzle Dazzle Dance Squad.

Mission Ahead

In the months that followed, the girls engaged in weekly practices and frequently additional practices amongst themselves. At first, they stretched and stumbled with more than few grumbles and frowns but over time with increasing enthusiasm and investment. Multiple songs were learned and rehearsed. Warm-ups were advocated for. Stretching leaders were chosen. Girls with interest or background rose to the top and gracefully became leaders; often naturally guiding and assisting girls without experience. The renegade pop-and-lock competitions died down and instead the unit was fueled with requests for additional dance time particularly for solo and duet projects that also were individually advocated for and created by each individual girl. Girls who had little or no dance experience slowly grew more confident in their “new moves.” Still other girls whom chose not to perform due to cultural, religious. or personal beliefs, participated with valuable encouragement, critiques, dress rehearsals, flyers, and even MC’ing our first performance. The girls slowly, and at first a bit begrudgingly, took ownership, investing in the group and ultimately in their performance. On that day, each one of the girls were skittish and flustered as their debut approached. It all worked though. The uncertain sound system, the nervous girls, the much anticipated audience and a lovely reception after their grand finale.  In the end, each girl glowed with pride, laughed, genuinely encouraged one another and celebrated that one special moment.

Why Dancing?

Dancing is far more than a rite of passage for many adolescent girls (and some boys). Dancing itself is expressive and inherently cathartic. It holds the power to improve emotional, cognitive, physical and social arenas. Studies have shown that dancing is beneficial to one on a physical level as it can increase muscle tone, endurance, and strength. It can also improve balance, coordination, agility and offers a fun avenue for cardio fitness. On top of all this, dance directly benefits mental health. Research shows that dance is effective for mood management, increased self-awareness, improved self-esteem, and it can provide a healthy avenue for the expression of emotions. It is often used for stress reduction and can be incorporated into yoga and mindfulness practices.

Dancing and the PassageWay

Learning to dance is a powerful expression of living a therapeutic lifestyle, a key component to the PassageWay. By learning to plan and practice new choreography, participants are actively “avoid avoiding” by taking one small step at a time in order to learn a much bigger, more complicated dance and reach completion of their goal. Furthermore, as participants work towards smaller, more achievable goals before reaching the long term goal (and fantastic performance) they are working on mastery itself. Learning dance movements and choreography requiring active participation and mindfulness as it is necessary for participants to be fully present, in mind and body, as they practice and master dance skills. For some girls, using dance as an expression of emotion can in itself be a coping skill and valuable as a built-in aspect of PLEASE MASTER to achieve further emotional regulation. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, for long term success, dance is an aspect of the therapeutic lifestyle that can easily be transferred from treatment into the community via dance therapists, dance teams throughout schools nationwide, and private dance organizations. This in turn prevents success within a vacuum and instead offers participants a real-life opportunity to implement skills that they are invested in, enjoy, and are valuable towards their personal and emotional success within the community.

Resources

For additional information on the therapeutic value of dance can be found at:

American Dance Therapy Association. (2016). What is Dance/Movement Therapy. American Dance Therapy Association. Retrieved on June 2nd, 2016 https://adta.org/faqs/
Castillo, S. (2012). The Happiness Trick You Haven’t Tried. Prevention. Retrieved on June 2, 2016 from http://www.prevention.com/mind-body/emotional-health/dancing-shown-help-boost-happiness-and-mental-health
Jackson, M. (2004). Dance Therapy for Mental Patients. British Broadcasting Company. Retrieved June 2, 2016 from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3551063.stm
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Dance Can Improve Mental Health of Teen Girls. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 2, 2016, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2012/11/22/dance-can-improve-mental-health-of-teen-girls/48024.html

Meet the Author

GINA LUNDERVOLD-FOLEY, LPC-IT  | Clinician

Gina’s work is focused around an awareness that the kids she serves have already struggled in their communities and often throughout many other therapies and placements. She sees kids come to us with no sense of hope and no one to believe in them. She believes healing is possible but for that to happen, they must have hope. Gina strives to instill hope in her kids by providing a safe place with her, to grow to trust in a therapeutic relationship, and to work toward change. She works with each of her clients to explore their past and themselves in whatever way is needed so that they can be successful in the community.

  • Specialties: DBT, CBT, ITCT-A, Narrative Therapy, Save Person-Centered Approach
  • Education: BA, Family Social Science; MS, Clinical Psychology
  • Memberships: IPPA, IATP, Association for the Development of the Person-centered Approach
  • With Northwest Passage since 2014

“Dancing is magical! It sets my mind and heart free.”

Ilyna, 15

Northwest Passage is dedicated to providing access to all eight elements of living a therapeutic lifestyle in a myriad of unique ways. We foster and celebrate staff who take a creative approach to this challenge. Thank you for taking a moment to share the origins story of a dance troop that has taken the Prairieview program by storm and has become a place of renewal, friendship, fun, and more for our girls.

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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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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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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.

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