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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Artist in Residence: Words from the Artist

Hannah Prichard

Artist in Residence, Ceramics

My experience with Northwest Passage was particularly unique. At the start of the summer, I began as the Artist in Residence Intern but finished as the Artist in Residence. The first artist of the summer, Kat King, provided a good model of what the Artist in Residence should be and I was excited to get the opportunity to work with another artist in July. A week before the next artist was supposed to arrive I was told he had canceled last minute and I was asked to step in as the next Artist in Residence. Of course, a myriad of emotions flooded my brain: excitement, nervousness, anticipation, and doubt. I had to make the transition from supporting another artist to becoming the artist, planning and leading my own programming. Although I was not sure if I would be able to reach the bar set by Kat at the beginning of summer, I was eager to share ceramics with the kids.

I have always found working with clay to be a meditative experience. It has acted as an emotional release for me, as well as a source of joy and fulfillment. However, it was not until this summer that I realized how applicable the lessons I’ve learned from pottery are to real-world problems. Even though the kids may not realize it yet, I think they learned a little more about themselves and how they react to different situations. One resident had a hard time at the beginning of every project. Her frustration with the clay would build to a point where she was unable to think logically about the task at hand. Multiple times I told her to step away and take a break. Every time this happened, she would come back a few minutes later and conquer the project. It was only after she became angry with the clay that she was able to move forward and produce a beautiful end product. Not only did she make a quality piece of artwork, but she also expressed immense joy when she saw her finished piece. This resident’s story is a perfect example of how anger can hinder the artistic process. It isn’t until we take a step back and breathe that we can really see how to solve the issue. It also reminds me that anger is a natural part of the problem-solving process.

Over the course of the four weeks, I found that I was learning more from these kids than I could have ever taught them. I forgot what it was like to start out in clay; how difficult and new it felt. We don’t use our hands in our daily lives like we do when we are handcrafting something out of clay. However, the beginning isn’t just a time of frustration and confusion. It is the most innovative part of any new venture. Anything is possible. In addition, kids have a way of surprising you and doing the unexpected. Sometimes my instructions were not as clear as I wanted them to be and kids would create something completely different from what I pictured in my head. Although in many circumstances this was aggravating because I felt I was not communicating effectively, it allowed creativity to run free. These kids are incredibly creative and a lot of them haven’t been able to explore their artistry. Doing pottery allowed them to forge through uncharted innovation and individuality. They were problem-solving and coming up with many new ideas for other projects. For the first two weeks I had very specific plans, but once I realized their creative potential I let the kiddos expand and develop their own ideas. Of course, they needed a little structure, but only enough to get them started. Once they were started they didn’t want to stop.

There were many times a kid would call me over and ask me to do it for them. I would ask them to take a second, then follow their instincts and trust in their own ability. In almost every circumstance the resident told me the next steps to be taken and then proceeded to do it on their own. In that moment of doubt, where I can guess that many people prior had told them they couldn’t do it or simply took over and did it for them, they needed someone to tell them, “You know this, you can do it.” I can personally attest to this feeling; not knowing you had the ability until someone told you that you did. There is no better feeling than being empowered by your own ability.

It was truly inspiring to watch these young people work through and find their own creative process and find the ability to create something beautiful. Frustration is so important because it means that we’re engaged in our work and we care about the outcome. Knowing that we worked harder and really dedicated the time to perfect one-piece makes it more significant than the others that came easily too us. This experience exceeded my expectations and the moments of frustration, hope, and joy I had with these kids will never be forgotten.

 

 

Maple takes first in Siren Summerfest Chalk Art Competition

A humid, rainy day is not ideal weather for a festival, however, that’s what was provided for the Siren Summerfest Chalk Art Competition. The optimism of the Maple unit, a competitor in the contest, was abounding and brightened the gloom of a possible thunderstorm.

When we arrived at the old Fourwinds Market parking lot and saw that it was vacant of competitors, truth be told, I was nervous about the Maple units reactions to the possibility of the event being canceled. To my relief, they were understanding and said it was okay. I gave them two choices, we could turn around now and have a regular day of Saturday programming, or we could play at the park and go back when we felt tired out. When one of the residents asked to check the sign out by the road to see if there was any new information about the event, out of blind optimism, I said sure, maybe it moved.

Lo and behold, IT MOVED to Crooked Lake Park! The fish pavilion was our new destination! As we gathered our blankets and chalk, I anticipated there being a few contestants already hard at work with masterpieces, but to our surprise, Maple unit was the first to arrive! The group convinced Olivia, one of Maple’s Weekend Primaries, to participate as well and she sidled up right next to us creating her own brilliant artwork.

Maple unit began mapping out their plans and was fast at work in harmony and contentment. The artwork began to take shape and transformed into a whimsical underwater visual splendor with the main subject, a Mermaid, eating a cheeseburger. This completely encapsulates the Maple unit’s humor and style constantly quoting funny movies and telling jokes.

Time flew by and our 5’ by 5’ square was complete, but Maple unit and Olivia were the only competitors! The Siren Chamber of Commerce, Chris, pulled me aside and asked if Maple unit would enjoy the prize items that were originally dedicated for a much younger group, a large basket of Crayola art supplies, to which I had to reply “ABSOLUTELY!”

Maple unit was incredibly gracious when they accepted 1st place and were awarded the treasures of the grand prize. They stood proudly by their work for some photo ops and we ended the morning by having lunch and a treat at the local Dairy Queen, which many Maple residents would argue that Pop Rocks DO belong in ice cream. What a great day it turned out to be and I am so incredibly proud of the Maple unit’s accomplishment.

Artist in Residence: Kat King Making Connections Through Music

Artist in Residence Kat King brings joy and inspiration through music!

For the past four weeks, creativity has been bountiful at Schaefer Cabin thanks to our wonderful Artist in Residence Kat King. Kat has spent the last month living at Schaefer Cabin sharing her talent and passion for music with the kids. Groups from each unit were able to visit Kat at the cabin each week and experience all that music can do to benefit a person’s mental and emotional state. Writing, playing, and listening to music can be a positive outlet for the kids to be able to outwardly portray and understand what it is they may be struggling with internally. Music is a great way for an individual to express themselves and to connect with a group, making it easier to open up and communicate emotions and thoughts.

At Northwest Passage, this year, the Artist in Residence program allowed our residents to explore their imagination, use

creative writing to express themselves, and find purpose in their lives through the vehicle of music. Truly, it’s been amazing 

to behold a glimpse of their stories taking flight. 

~ Molly Thompson, Expressive Arts Instructor

The process of songwriting began with the kids and Kat going on a silent nature hike down to the Namekagon River and through the woods, observing their senses and surroundings. After the hike, the kids were given time to free-write about what they saw, heard, and felt. Once everyone was given the time to reflect, the kids began to share the things in nature they observed. As the kids shared, Kat wrote down all the different expressions and metaphors that the kids used to relate nature back to their experiences. In no time the groups had established a unique, collaboratively written song. The kids then worked with Kat on the melodies, and getting their songs performance ready for the Artist Reception that was held at the end of Kat’s stay.

Many of their writings were incredibly deep and insightful and before I knew it we had a whole marker board full of potential

song lyrics and ideas. It was fun to see one kid share an idea and soon other kids in the room were lighting up and sharing

their own ideas, the room alive with a creative energy that I live for. The cabin allowed me the space and solitude to come up

with melodies to their lyrics and seeing their reactions from watching their songs come to life was incredibly rewarding. 

~ Kat King

Artist in Residence

Watching the process unfold and ideas come together, the introspection and the laughter, and the creativity and insight guided by a gifted artist and team of dedicated counselors was truly a one-of-a-kind experience. Kat helped the kids to not only find the musicians and songwriters within themselves but also to incorporate lyrics with metaphors from nature and their own journeys of mental health. The songs they created helped to show their true selves and they will become part of the way that they define themselves to the world.

~ Ian Karl

Experiential Programming Coordinator

Songs

Raging Fire

By  Maple

 

If I go near the water, my flames might burn out

So I stand here staring with this fear and doubt, fear and doubt

This fast moving current fills me with dread

All these “what if’s” swirling around in my head, in my head

Chorus:

A few drops of water may dampen the flame

But the current can’t stop me, I’ll rise above the pain

I take a deep breath and my dreams rage on

Pushing past the water that’s confined me so long

My mental health may have left a smudge

But watch me trek on through the sludge, through the sludge

Jumping this river may help me say

I made it through another day, another day

Chorus:

Oh – oh – oh- oh- oh- oh- oh (4X)

Bridge:

My hopes and dreams rage on

Because of the fire, the forest lives on

My roots are settled deep and strong

I finally feel like I belong

Wooden Palace

By Willow

Birds call out somewhere above

Welcoming us with their songs of love

Let the river lead you there

It can guide you anywhere

Hearing birds sing as we walk

I would rather listen than talk

I can hope, I can dream

I can laugh, I can sing

Trees stand tall, peace sets in

Schaefer Cabin is a win

Palace full of positivity

It can be your friend if you let it be

Unplugged with an open heart

Absorbing nature brings a new start

Set things free, let them live

Endless vibes nature can give

Enter in, forget your worries

Let it speak, hear the stories

Trees stand tall, peace sets in

Schaefer Cabin is a win

River of Sorrow, River of Hope

By Riverside

The river rushing by, I’m getting passed by

I’m stuck while things keep moving

Sometimes life isn’t for choosing

The process, oh, so slow

Leaves are the first to go

Now a log, but once a tree

This isn’t how it’s supposed to be

I have hit rock bottom, now it’s time to rise

Maybe getting stuck was a blessing in disguise

These layers are holding me together

My temporary home – I won’t be stuck forever

This is just a pause

The things I’ve been through, the things I have seen

The things I have witnessed – I wish my mind was clean

I’ve come to realize I wouldn’t change a thing

Everything I’ve been through

It’s made me who I’m meant to be

Once a river of sorrow

Now the river of hope

Fast or slow

Ready for the torrential flow

Life is Nature

By Oak

 

I have the eye of sight, but I can’t see

Feels like I’m being walked on like leaves

Would somebody please show respect to me

River is the path driven by the current

Taking away the pain so I won’t feel hurt

Chorus:

Standing tall and firm like a tree

And ask for what I need

I can be as confident as I want to be

River is flowin’ like the breeze that’s blowin’

Always flowing forward, I won’t go back

Looking downstream with uncertainty

Not knowing where it leads

Fill up my soul with the peace it needs

I’m beginning to see this positivity

The path that is within me

The path that is within me for which I need

I believe there’s a magic about the Artist in Residence program that no other program can grasp. I get to see the residents

engage each moment we spend at Schaefer Cabin and watch them grow as a unit and as individuals, which helps

tremendously in their self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-awareness. The program also connects them with nature,

creativity, and the relationships they form while at Northwest Passage. 

~ Molly Thompson

Expressive Arts Instructor

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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

_____

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.”

Grand Opening!

NORTHWEST PASSAGE GROWS CAPACITY FOR HOPE IN WISCONSIN

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 country. 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.

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16th Annual Golf Scramble

Northwest Passage held its 16th annual Passage Golf Scramble at the Frederic Golf Course. It was a huge success with dozens of community members and organizations stepping up to support the organization devoted to healing children for nearly 40 years. Over $22,000 was raised to support both current and past residents on their road to recovery and as they demonstrate success both during treatment, through therapeutic programming opportunities, and after, though the Alumni Award Fund.

For more information about Northwest Passage call 715-327-4402 or visit us at nwpltd.org.

Resources: Photos courtesy of Dillon Vibes

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

 

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