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

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.”

Spreading Hope

A SPECIAL SHOUT OUT TO YOU!

The kids had an absolute blast last week as staff passed out greetings cards with wonderful messages of hope and tasty locally made cookies.

Last week was the second annual Valentine’s Day of Hope at Northwest Passage. But, “What is this all about?” asked one new staff member as the excitement spread through the building. Well, it’s a long story, kind of. Last year a pair of staff were looking to engage people who cared about Passage in a way that was accessible, directly impacted the kids, and wouldn’t cost them a dime (literally, not even a stamp). They stumbled across the idea of asking our “friends” to send in cards with inspirational messages to our kids. “We asked our supporters to send these cards in for the kids, of course, but also for themselves. We know that any act of kindness, no matter how small, is good for us. It ties in with the power of service, one of the eight tenets of the PassageWay.” explains clinical director, Angela Fredrickson. She goes on to say, “We wanted to be able to provide an opportunity for those who care about the work we do to be a part of that work.” So, they gave it a try. The team sent out cards with a simple note asking people to send in messages to the kids. The response was overwhelming.

Our son was at Northwest Passage several years ago. It was a rough time for everyone. Even after Passage, there were challenges. But gradually, our son dug deep into his soul and realized that life could be good if he made it that way. Today, he is a college graduate with a good job, sober for several years and helping others who are on their way to sobriety. Our hopes and prayers for you are that you will receive the help that NWP offers and see the “good” in life. We don’t know you, but we love you.

Parent of Past Resident

“I found myself tearing up as I read through these heartfelt messages people were sending in,” one staff member recalls. Another one talks about the power of reading the notes sent by the parents of past clients.  “It was empowering to see the stories from parents I’d worked with in the past. To know our work changed the lives of their kids in such profound ways. I was speechless.” The cards came from social workers, educational consultants, past clients and their parents, donors, and partners who have worked with our kids in the past. And their message was loud and clear – so many people care about these kids and we’ve got to do this again. So we did!

This year we saw the response to the effort double, responses came in from across the country from hundreds of supporters. So when staff walked into the program on Valentine’s Day this year, they were able to give kids a handful of cards chock full of messages of compassion, hope, and inspiration. Not to mention a delicious sugar cookie and a glass of milk. So sit back and soak up some of the hope that flooded over our kids.

And thank you, for being a part of such a beautiful moment that touched the lives of staff, the kids, and you yourself.

Be assured, you are important. I am so very proud of the work you do each day to become the person you are meant to be!

Kathy

Please know that you are loved and that I care about you. Be confident that you have the power to overcome your obstacles. Have patience with yourself and never give up.

Deb

You will not be given any card in life that you cannot handle. You were born with the beauty and the strength to persevere through any hardships life throws your way and please don’t ever forget that you are strong, beautiful and worthy.

Ryan

Connect to the gift of life, trust is within you, let it sustain you, like the flower that blooms in the stone. Miracles are everywhere. Yes, that is also you. May universal love enfold you and sustain you.

Lori

I want to remind you how strong you are and that whatever challenges you are facing you can get through them. Be the best you that you can be, you are worth more than you know.

Jane

To learn more about how service fits into the Northwest Passage philosophy of living an everyday therapeutic lifestyle, check out the PassageWay.

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All the Boos Without the Booze: How to Have a Haunting Halloween in Sobriety

Article Submitted by guest author Caleb Anderson of Recovery Hope
Photo Credit: hzv_westfalen_de, Pixabay

While celebrating Halloween may have previously entailed dressing up in a costume, heading to a party, and drinking alcohol or using substances, now that you’re in sobriety, that’s obviously not a party you want or need to attend. Luckily, there are plenty of more low-key and sober options that are fun or scary, and some are a little bit of both. From themed parties to scary movie marathons, you’re sure to find a way to have a haunting Halloween in sobriety.

Throw a Themed Party

Hosting your own sober Halloween party is a great way to celebrate the holiday without the presence of substances. Make the party a themed celebration to take the festivities up a few notches. The decorations, food, beverages, and costumes can be centered on the theme. For example, you can host a Harry Potter-themed party, complete with a Sorting Hat game and Golden Snitch cake pops. Ask guests to dress like their favorite houses or characters.

A Nancy Drew Mystery Party and a Clue-themed party are also great ideas. Either option sets up the opportunity to have guests solve mysteries during the get-together. For Clue, guests can wear colors of their favorite characters, and a Nancy Drew can feature magnifying glass cookies and campy detective decor. Other themes can be The Nightmare Before Christmas, a mad scientist’s lab, or a haunted house.

Host A Pumpkin Carving Party

Carving pumpkins is one of the most popular Halloween traditions, so why not host a pumpkin carving party on Halloween night? You can either provide pumpkins for everyone or ask guests to bring their own pumpkins. If you choose the latter, you should still have a few on hand in case someone forgets to bring one. The best carving pumpkins are smooth, firm, and symmetrical. You can also print out pumpkin-carving templates and patterns.

Carving outside is ideal since pumpkin carving can get messy, but if the weather doesn’t permit outdoor carving, set up a station inside. Cover the tables with newspaper, kraft paper, or a disposable tablecloth. Because pumpkin flesh and seeds can be slippery, consider covering the floors too. Serve fall-inspired food, drinks, and desserts like pumpkin-shaped cheese balls, warm apple cider, and leaf-shaped cookies.

Go to a Halloween Party

Instead of hosting your own Halloween party, you can attend a friend’s spooky bash. However, planning ahead before you go is crucial if you go this route. Bring a sober friend with you if possible, and always determine transportation arrangements beforehand. Either drive your own car or have the number of a cab company in your phone so that you can leave when you’re ready, especially if you start to feel uncomfortable.

Someone may offer you a drink without knowing you’re in sobriety, or someone may try to pressure you into using substances. Think of a script to say “no” so the person knows you’re definitive in your decision. Also, when you arrive at the party, scope out the layout so you can have a smooth exit if you need to leave.

Visit a Haunted City

This Halloween, take a trip to a city with a haunting history. Whether you live on the East Coast or the West Coast or somewhere in between, there’s bound to be a haunted city near you. Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA are two of the most popular destinations. Some hauntings in Charleston have been reported since the 1700s when pirates were hung, and Savannah is dubbed “the most frightening city and seaport in all of America” by the Travel Channel.

Boston, MA is an obvious choice because of the soldiers who perished in the Revolutionary War, but it’s also home to the first person to be persecuted as a witch. San Antonio, TX features a few haunted hotels, which have been the site of murder and disruption throughout history. You can also add St. Paul, MN; San Francisco, CA; Chicago, IL; New Orleans, LA; Gettysburg, PA; Fort Lauderdale, FL; Portland, OR; Washington, DC; and Charlotte, NC to your list.

Of course, you shouldn’t feel bad about staying home and watching scary movies or handing candy out to trick-or-treaters. You should do whatever you feel comfortable doing that doesn’t involve using substances. As long as you make a plan and prepare for the evening, you can have a fun and frightful Halloween while staying focused on your goal of sobriety.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

Submitted

Every child deserves to grow up in a safe, stable, and nurturing environment. Please join us during April Prevention Month to “Say Something, Do Something for Kids,” by promoting and strengthening child abuse prevention efforts in Wisconsin.

Children are the foundation of our society, our community and our future. Children raised in loving and supportive environments are more likely to prosper academically and financially, becoming successful contributing members of society. Wisconsin must be a leader and champion for all of our children. We need to enhance the success of our communities by promoting programs and policies that seek to support the lives of children and families. Preventing child abuse and neglect results in better childhoods, ultimately saving millions of dollars currently needed for the services to address the short and long-term effects of abuse on children, their families, and our communities. The savings generated through prevention can be used to serve our communities in other ways, making them safer, economically successful, and great places to live and grow.

It doesn’t matter how big or small your effort. Prevention is about making sure our communities know and show
that all children deserve great childhoods and that every individual in Wisconsin has the power to “Say
Something, Do Something for Kids.”

Join us, along with the Wisconsin Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board, Prevent Child Abuse Wisconsin (PCAW), a program of Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Community Services, and Wisconsin Department of Children and Families in our April Prevention Month activities.

This month, we come together to participate in activities that show our commitment to children and families. Please download the toolkit below for more information.

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Snuggling with pets creates more than just smiles

KIDS ENJOY SPENDING TIME AT LOCAL PET STORE

Our kids were able to reap benefits of a fantastic day interacting with the animals at a local pet store because of the field trip their teachers, Taylor Mathias and Bethani Sando, planned. They spent time in the community with positive adults, while having fun interacting with the critters at The Pet Store in Siren, WI. They had the opportunity to interact with a cat, ferrets, rabbits, a cranky parrot named Morgan and a host of scaly reptiles. They absolutely LOVED their time there, especially the soft and fuzzy feeling of the rabbits. One of the rabbits even nibbled on a young lady’s cheek.

Going to a pet store is way funner than swinging on a swing or playing a game.

Lyla, 9

For years, the effects of animals on their human companions have been studied. Numerous physical and mental health benefits have been shown in humans who share their lives with animals. Beyond that, research has shown physiological effects on people who merely have contact with animals, such as the lowering of blood pressure in nursing home residents petting a cat.

Specifically, in the arena of mental health treatment, the use of animals to help facilitate mental health interventions has been in existence for hundreds of years in some form or another. More recently, evidenced based animal-facilitated interventions have been increasing in the world of mental health. Organizations including PATH International http://www.pathintl.org/ EAGALA http://www.eagala.org/  and AAI http://www.aai-int.org/ help to provide professional standards and education to the varied field of animal assisted therapy.

Angela Fredrickson, LCSW – Clinical Director

Visiting The Pet Store and spending time with animals, of course, fits into the Northwest Passage philosophy of living an everyday therapeutic lifestyle. Read more about the eight elements at http://nwpltd.org/passageway/.

Behind the Masks

WORKING TOWARD SELF-ACCEPTANCE

Prairieview residents made individually casted personal masks creating a unique collaboration between individual therapy and therapeutic art group. The residents excelled with notable symbolism and creativity while exploring the pieces of self we show the outside world, what we hold within, and how we can move towards self-acceptance.

I show the world happiness and what I think the world wants to see. If I don’t do that, I feel different, I feel separate like I’m not supposed to feel the way I do. Sharing happiness eventually makes me happy, it distracts me from underlying sadness.

Marissa, 16

The girls spent two weeks casting masks of their faces with paper mache and then decorating those masks with many paint colors and other pieces like lace or beads. The front represented how the world sees them and the inside represented how they see themselves. “Each color represented a different emotion or way they see themselves, Molly Thompson, Expressive Arts Counselor said, “it was incredible to see how much time and detail they put into them.”

They then spent a day at the yurt. “We delved into pieces of personality, masks we wear, the purpose they serve, things we keep hidden and why and ultimately self-acceptance via writing, discussion, and dance,” explained Gina Lundervold-Foley MS, LPC-IT, Mental Health Clinician.”The girls shared stories and really listened to each other.”

“These brave residents demonstrated courage and vulnerability when they were able to experiment with “owning” their strengths and weaknesses. I was amazed to witness their willingness to consider the concept of radical self-acceptance. It was a beautiful and liberating experience,” Lisa Courchaine, LCSW, Mental Health Clinician said.

The Prairieview girls had an open house to display the masks they made. Program Assistant, Nadine Schmitt, describes her experience, “we got to speak with each girl about the mask she created. We heard various stories of how the outside was decorated to demonstrate how people see them. Then they turned the mask so we could see the inside, which was also decorated; but to show how they feel inside. My heart went out to one of the girls who showed me an attractive outside mask but when she turned the mask over to show me the inside of the mask, she had red “X’s” over the eyes and the face was unattractive. She stated in a matter-of-fact tone that this is how her mother treats her. What a statement!”

Northwest Passage is passionate about the arts. We use many arts, including music, dance, photography, drawing, painting, and theater in our work with kids. Creating these masks is another way for the kids to look at themselves through art.

Sights set High

“Mankind has always dreamed of taking to the skies, and when they did, their outlook on the world changed forever.”  

Elias, age 16

FLIGHT PEAKS YOUNG MAN’S INTEREST IN BECOMING PILOT

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Riverside client, Elias, was one of the participants of Northwoods Flyers EAA Chapter 1537’s annual Young Eagles event held at the Burnett County Airport, as part of our “In a New Light” programming.

 

“I took photos of the pilots and their young passengers before they took flight.”  

After the first round of kids went on their flights, there was a short lull in participants, and so Elias got his opportunity to fly. He and his mentor pilot walked around the plane checking over the plane before he got strapped into the backseat.

“I was able to take on the skies myself along with pilot, Tom Wilde, in his Bellanca Scout Aircraft. A while after takeoff Tom offered to let me try to fly the plane myself. After a bit of hesitation, I took the controls and felt what it was like to be a pilot.” 

It was an experience that Elias hopes to repeat.

“Once it was over the only thing on my mind was when I was going to do that again? 

Seeing things from above was very different than on the ground, it almost made me feel a little insignificant seeing the vastness of the world we live in.

I can only imagine what it must feel like to go to space!”

Elias has since become an EAA Student Member and started Sporty’s Learn to Fly Course online. Northwoods Flyers EAA Chapter 1537’s Young Eagle event and program has sparked an interest in Elias that he may not have found so soon in his life, if ever.

The Young Eagles program was started by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) in 1992. It gives children between the ages of 8 and 17 the opportunity to fly free in an airplane. According to the EAA web site, the program’s mission is “to introduce and inspire kids in the world of aviation” and our local chapter met their mark with Elias and hopefully more of the 35 kids that took part in the day or the 250 they have taken up in the last four years.

“There were lots of smiles and thank yous – it makes it worthwhile. I love being able to share the experience of flying with kids. I am thankful for our local pilots who donated their time and fuel.” 

Roy Ward, Pilot and Event Organizer

In Northwest Passage’s 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 recreation opportunities, learn healthy nutritional habits, and move their bodies. This Young Eagles program has met many of these therapeutic lifestyle choices.

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See Suicide Behaviors In a New Light

PASSAGE REFLECTS ON CARE AND TREATMENT OF SUICIDE AND SELF-HARM

We here at Passage are all too familiar with the pain and fear associated with suicide and self-harm, as many of our residents have experiences with suicidal thoughts and/or attempts. We wanted to take a moment to honor the spirit behind Suicide Awareness Month by talking about just what these behaviors are and how we can look at this phenomenon “In a New Light.” Join Riverside’s Clinical Director, Angela Frederickson, as she discusses this salient topic.

Suicide and self-harm behaviors can be some of the scariest expressions of mental illness that youth and families experience. They can hold family systems hostage in such a compelling way that everyone feels trapped in a cycle of misery and fear. Those who engage in suicidal behaviors and/or self injury feel equally trapped and miserable. Often the overwhelming emotional load of this topic can prevent parents and helping professionals from effectively intervening in a sustainable way. Helpers can find themselves desperately working to eliminate the problems of suicidal behavior and self-harm behavior by taking away the means to engage in such behaviors, reducing the risks leading up to such behaviors, or addressing the fallout after suicide attempts or self-harm.

Simply stated, the only resolution to the problem of suicide behaviors and self-harm behaviors is to stop engaging them. However, looking at suicide and self-harm behaviors as a solution to a problem versus the problem itself opens clients, families, and helping professionals up to a whole range of possible and effective interventions. To open our minds to consider suicide and self-harm in this way, we must try to understand and ultimately accept that to the person contemplating suicide or engaging in self-harm, these solutions are completely valid and sensible options to unbearable situations. In order to find the empathy required to help, we must acknowledge that suicide/self-harm might be a reasonable response to deep psychological pain, a reasonable effort to express that which cannot be expressed, or a reasonable punishment for an individual with tremendous self-loathing.

When we find that place of understanding and have the courage to sit with that uncomfortable acceptance of another human’s unbearable pain, we are ready to begin searching for the actual problem. If suicidal and self-harm behaviors aren’t the actual problem…then what is the problem? Perhaps the problem is a lack of skills to effectively communicate emotional intensity or needs. Often youth who have a deficit of skills in effective communication will use suicide words or self-injurious behaviors as an attempt to share with others the desperation they feel. Perhaps the problem is feelings of guilt and a desire to relieve the burden a young person feels they have placed on those around them. Suicide might seem to present a viable resolution for this situation or the use of self-harm might feel like the only adequate punishment. Perhaps the problem is the experience of crushing depressive symptoms or the torment of hallucinations, nightmares, or flashbacks. Suicide or self-harm may be the only way to alleviate the psychological pain.

While the only solution for the problem of suicidal and self-harm behaviors is to stop those behaviors, there are a myriad of sustainable solutions for a deficit of skills, a desire to discontinue feelings of guilt/self-loathing, or a need to alleviate psychological pain. The team at Northwest Passage has gathered a multitude of evidenced-based interventions to help address these problems including Dialectical Behavioral Skills group, Wellness Recovery Action Planning, and therapeutic lifestyle choices.

These interventions for youth and families from leaders in the field – Marsha Linehan, Mary Ellen Copeland, and David A. Jobes – adhere to a unifying theme that there is nothing inherently wrong or mysteriously broken about a person who presents with suicide or self-harm behaviors. Such a person is simply a human being with intense pain who also possesses the capacity to heal, change, and grow. Informed by this belief, the focus of the work is to help youth and families harness the inherent strengths of those involved in the client system to systematically work toward building mental health and more sustainable problem solving.

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School with Cedar

Outside the Classroom Learning

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During school hours at our Assessment Center, we engage our kids in arts, outdoor, and environmental programming, along with academic studies. It is a time for adventure and exploration – we look “outside the Passage bubble” for opportunities to interact with our surrounding communities and partnerships and keep our minds and bodies busy!

Additionally weekends have been full of hiking, fishing, swimming, and exploring our local parks.

Sketching with AiR: Cait

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Cedar, our younger kids group, participated in the Artist in Residence program with Cait Irwin at Schaefer Cabin on the Namekagon River. Many of the residents were able to connect on a personal level with Cait as they developed a rapport, spent several outings with her, and learned that everyone has struggles they work through in their lives. It was a pleasure watching them grow and become more confident in their drawings and expressing themselves through these means. At each outing, residents were given a communal sketch book to use and were introduced to authentic artist’s tools. We spent a portion of the time working independently to create our sketches, coming together at the end to share our work, thought processes, and ideas about our artwork.

Exploring and Photographing Nature

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Parts of these trips were also spent exploring the woods of Schaefer Cabin, the stream, and the environment surrounding us. We took advantage of this environment and spent time on our photography unit. A favorite was capturing the local wildlife which included frogs, soft-shelled turtles, snakes, spiders, and bugs.

Attending the Reception

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Three residents were able to help wrap up our experience by attending the Artist in Residence Reception at our Gallery. Cait was generous enough to spend part of her last day with us as we did some free sketching and observing at the Assessment Center.

Hands-on Learning Activities

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Much of the learning that occurs for our residents is through experiencing new places and knowledge and dealing with it in a hands-on approach. Cedar has gotten to explore different lakes and outdoor spaces surrounding us by swimming, critter catches, making I-movies, and creating presentations about our environments.

One of our culminating activities was going for a swimming trip to the Best Western in Siren for an open swim time. Residents greatly enjoyed this trip and got the chance to challenge staff in several kids vs. staff challenges. There was great sportsmanship and much enthusiasm when the kids were victorious in several of these events!

Every Friday afternoon Cedar participates in the In a New Light photography programming and has a new park or trail that we explore.

Reading Program

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To keep up with our reading we have been reading class books together every several weeks, including – The BFG by Ronald Dahl. As we read along with these books we enjoy creating projects, dioramas, posters, and other art projects around the themes. We enjoyed attending the movie after finishing the book and compared them to see if they are similar or different.

Previously we read Holes and had a variety of projects associated with this book. We also enjoyed a variety of other picture and chapter books that reflected our group’s areas of interest.

Learning Communication from Sammy

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As we continue throughout the school year, we look forward to more adventures and experiences ahead of us! A recent highlight was having Sammy, a therapy dog, come in for weekly visits with the kids. Many of the favorite activities are playing fetch, reading to her, and practicing open and clear communication by teaching her new tricks and practicing her obedience training.

Hannah Curran, Assessment Teacher

 

Northwest Passage is dedicated to providing access to all eight elements of living a therapeutic lifestyle in a myriad of unique ways. Our teachers are known for incorporating them in the lessons that they teach the kids every day. These are just a few of the many examples where they are leaving the “traditional classroom.”

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