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

Northwest Passage Sets up an Endowment Fund!

The Boards of Northwest Passage and the St. Croix Valley Foundation have announced that the Northwest Passage Endowment Fund is now being managed by the St. Croix Valley Foundation. Steve Schroeder, Chair of the St. Croix Valley Foundation says he is delighted that Northwest Passage has made this decision. “We believe that this will prove to be a fruitful partnership,” he said.

From its genesis in 1978, Northwest Passage programming has focused on blending traditional mental health treatment with arts and nature-based therapy. Though the problems facing children and teens have evolved since 1978, the fundamental needs for self-respect, trust, relationships, and steady guidance remain the same. And while Northwest Passage has grown in size and sophistication, it has never lost sight of the foundations all children need to be successful. By investing in the lives of marginalized youth, Northwest Passage is influencing and changing how mental health is ultimately treated and viewed. The transformations seen are no less than extraordinary.

The new fund will be invested and managed to provide funding in perpetuity for projects, and programs for Northwest Passage. “Having an endowment for Northwest Passage is an important step,” says Board President Kelly Hibbs. “As the needs of our clients change it is reassuring to know that this fund will be there forever to help with our future needs.”

The St. Croix Valley Foundation is a community foundation that serves six counties on both sides of the St. Croix River. It serves ten Affiliation Foundations that serve the following communities: Amery, Chisago Lakes, Hudson, Lower St. Croix communities, New Richmond, Burnett County, Prescott, River Falls, Somerset, and Stillwater.

For more information about the Northwest Passage Endowment Fund call our Development Director, Chanda Elliott at 715-327-4402 or visit us at nwpltd.org.

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/.

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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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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Riverside boys soaring to new heights

PHOTOGRAPHY, COMMUNITY SERVICE, AND FLYING ALL ROLLED INTO ONE

The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 1537, of Siren, WI, is giving a few of our kids an opportunity that has and will send them to new heights. The group of pilots has given them the chance to serve their team and have offered to take us flying so that our young photographers can test their skills at aerial photography.

The kids took photos and watched stunt pilots perform, while also helping with other tasks like crowd supervision, during the Gandy Dancer Fly In/Drive In Airshow. This show helped to build their confidence, as they were asked to help manage the spectators around the airshow area. It helped to connect them with some more role models and allowed them to give back to our community. They also got to practice their photography skills. And most of all … they were inspired by the people!

Xavier, 14 – Riverside Client reflects on experience:

I recently had the opportunity to meet Susan Dacy at the Gandy Dancer Airshow in Siren, WI. Susan was the ONLY woman to perform in the show.

Susan Dacy, along with Big Red, are such a phenomenal team. Susan really relies on Big Red to help put her skills to the test. Her Sterman Aircraft was by far my favorite to take pictures of. The vibrant colors of “Big Red” really drew me in.

Susan was so willing and open to sharing her experiences with both kids and adults. As she was talking, I quickly noticed how passionate she was for flying. She described how she became very interested in flying at a very young age. I became so fascinated by how much she knew. One of the first questions I remember asking her was “How do you fit inside of that little compartment?” She explained that it was a little bit of a challenge considering there was not a whole lot of room. I also noticed as I watched Susan interact with younger kids that she had such a warm smile on her face. I think it really lit them up.

I really enjoyed meeting Susan Dacy. It felt wonderful to be able to have the opportunity and I am so happy and honored to have had the chance to meet and talk with such a kind and talented woman. She is a great person with so much experience. Susan really takes pride in what she is doing.

Having such a positive experience with Susan really made me realize that I could be whatever I want to be as long as I put my mind to it.

Thank you for sharing your time with us Susan!

Next, the kids get to take part in the EAA Young Eagles event happening at the Siren Airport. They will get the full experience getting to fly with the other kids participating. They will bring their cameras to take aerial shots, but also help the EAA group by taking photos of the kids and pilots before they take their turn in the cockpit.

At Northwest Passage we know that service to others not only provides benefits to those who receive, but also to those who give. Our kids get the opportunity to give to the Siren Chapter of the EAA by helping them with their events, but the EAA pilots are also giving to our kids by volunteering to take them up in their planes and being strong role models for our youth.

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State Representitives visit Passage

From left to right: State Senator Sheila Harsdorf, Representative Adam Jarchow, Northwest Passage Executive Director Mark Elliott, and Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett

STATE OFFICIALS VISIT NORTHWEST PASSAGE GALLERY

Northwest Passage is always working to expand the visibility of our kids’ talents and worth through our In a New Light Gallery. Their work has been displayed at exhibits, both nationally and locally, and have been seen by over a million people! But there are still people who haven’t seen their work. That is why Northwest Passage hosted local tourism advocates at our gallery to meet with State Officials to discuss tourism in Burnett County and introduce them to the beauty of our area through our nature photography and the spirit of our kids. “We were honored to have the Senator, State Representative, and the Secretary at our Gallery. To be able to walk them through our space and introduce them to our kids was really special,” says Executive Director Mark Elliott.

Opportunities like these, where local community members come together with state level officials don’t happen every day. We’re thrilled to have had the time and space to foster a moment of awe for our visitors at the In a New Light Gallery and to collaborate on enriching our community. But we weren’t the only ones to enjoy it. Check out what our guests had to say below!

It was a great opportunity for NWP to share all the amazing work our kids our doing. Most of the youth that come into our program never get to celebrate anything positive in their lives. The Gallery gives them an opportunity to share their photography and stories not only with their family members, but also the community. To have representatives from the State of Wisconsin come in and see that the kids are making progress on their path to hope and healing was just incredible.

Chanda Elliott

Development Director, Northwest Passage

Tremendous visit, we gained a lot of information. We hope that State Senator Sheila Harsdorf will come back in the fall. The Burnett County Coalition would host a fall dinner meeting and a large informational meeting at which the Senator could present to the county business leaders.

Larry Main

Owner and Operator, The Main Store

It was great to  have Sec. Klett visit Burnett County and share her tourism spirit! Sen. Harsdorf and Rep. Jarchow demonstrated their support for economic development by getting out and learning about the great things happening in Burnett County.

Mike Kornmann

Community Development Agent, UW Extension - Burnett County

The meeting was great.  It was wonderful to have the opportunity to discuss our local tourism environment and needs with Secretary Klett, Senator Harsdorf, and Representative Jarchow.

Their keen interest and open willingness to work with us to enhance our Burnett County tourism efforts was very apparent as they offered staff assistance, e.g. Burnett County Farmers’ Market ‘farm to table’ grant review, and proven ideas, e.g. ‘county wide’ Restaurant Week, to bolster our local economy.  With return on investment being an 8:1 ratio, focus on growth in tourism must be seen and remain as a key area for our county’s continued success, which they are in full support.

Chris Moeller

Executive Director, Siren Chamber of Commerce

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Mental Health Awareness Candlelight Vigil

PAST RESIDENT EMBRACES MENTAL HEALTH

Thursday, May 19, my colleague and I, in conjunction with a local youth voice group, organized a Mental Health Awareness candlelight vigil.  We walked with candles from our town to the adjacent town to show support for the multiple suicides that have occurred over the past few months in both school districts.

We stopped at the courthouse, placed our candles, and then opened the forum for people to share their struggles and triumphs with mental health challenges. Quite a few high school kids stepped up and spoke. It was very moving! And then…young Theo, my son and past resident of Northwest Passage, stepped up to the megaphone and told his tale. I couldn’t believe it! It’s the first time I have ever heard him talk about it all – his anger issues, depression, placements, and therapy! Wow.

He was like a little man up there…we were so proud. Then a few kids walked up to him and talked to him about their siblings who have the same issues and are in placements, and Theo listened and offered support and advice. He even got a bracelet from one of the adult onlookers that simply states “you are not alone” and he still has it on.

On our way to the walk, Theo asked me, what do you think it means to be a man? I told him, a real man takes ownership of his choices and his actions, whether they are good or bad.  He did that last night. He told me that he’s still working on it all, and I told him that he just took the BIGGEST step in recovery.

Gillian Turner, Past Resident Parent – c/o Anna Pearson, Riverside Case Manager/Aftercare Coordinator

Northwest Passage stays in touch with the kids and their families after they leave. We enjoy hearing about what they are doing and like to share these stories. It warms our hearts to hear that they are embracing who they are and what they have been through.

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Thinking outside of the box, with boxes… and MORE!

CLASSROOM FUN SPARKS LOVE FOR LEARNING AT PASSAGE

As you know, our experiential education programming has allowed InaNewLight to soar to great heights and allows learners of all types to reclaim a love for the classroom. Now take a moment to see our educators, and kids, in action as they strive to provide a classroom experience to fit all of our kids’ needs; to ignite a passion for learning.

By combining service, nature, and project-based learning we are curating classroom experiences where our kids are excelling at learning, sometimes for the first time. If you’d like to learn about what we’ve been up to, here are just a few stories to get you started.

We are proud of the education the kids at Passage receive during a very difficult time in their lives. The kids that come to us are dealing with mental health and emotional challenges, but they’re also struggling with the realities of living away from home, meeting new people, making friends, and learning many new life skills. One thing we can do to help ease the kids into their home-away-from-home is to provide an adaptive education that looks and feel like a normal classroom. We still have science fairs, papers due, and those desks connected to their chair, but we also inject project based learning that can open up the classroom to learners of all levels.

Our educational curriculum is guided not only by state and core standards, but by the principals of living the PassageWay – learning to live a Therapeutic Lifestyle. This means that many of the elements to living a therapeutic lifestyle are incorporated into the classroom, resulting in a more dynamic approach to teaching. From service to time spent in nature, our kids have a robust learning experience that we’re proud to say is fully accredited and truly serves as a building block to success in life.

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Riverside heads to Feed my Starving Children

THE BOYS AT RIVERSIDE LEARNED A LESSON OR TWO AND WHILE LENDING A HELPING HAND

This month some residents of Northwest Passage Riverside made a real and tangible difference in the lives of children around the world. They did so by donating their time and money to the Coon Rapids-based charity “Feed My Starving Children.”

Students had been studying about South America and Africa in geography class. In addition to learning about the interesting physical features and positive cultural aspects of these continents, students were introduced to the harsh reality of severe poverty that sometimes afflicts children and adults in these (and other) parts of the world.

The goal of the lessons on poverty was not to heap guilt or hopelessness upon our residents, but rather to raise awareness and to prepare them to make a real difference by turning a situation of despair into one of hope.

In preparation for the field trip, residents were given the opportunity to donate their hard-earned “school bucks” (our incentive program at the Riverside School). Many of our students responded to the call and donated a total of $62.75 to the cause of feeding hungry people around the world. (The students’ school bucks were traded in for real dollars at a healthy exchange rate).

At the facility we were given a brief orientation to the goals and impact of Feed My Starving Children and the procedures for making the food packs. After this, three staff with 11 residents helped to scoop, weigh, bag, seal, and box meal packs that were going to be shipped to needy areas around the world. The food packs (called “Manna Packs”) consisted of a vitamin mix, dried vegetables, soy filler, and rice. The cost to produce one of these packs, which make 6 – 12 servings, is a mere 22 cents. The low cost is partially due to the fact that much of the labor needed to produce the Manna Packs is completed by volunteers – like our group of boys from NWP Riverside. Our young men worked energetically and cooperatively to produce numerous boxes of potentially life-saving meals. One resident was so focused on his task in the effort that he refused to take a water break. And while our residents were engaged in serious work, they also had a lot of fun volunteering at the facility with other local school groups. They enthusiastically cheered whenever they completed a box and some of them even felt comfortable enough to loudly sing along to some songs being piped through the facility speakers.

At the conclusion of our shift, we were thanked for our hard work and donation. We also were given a sample of the Manna Pack meals that we had been making. The director of the facility then shared the total number of packs produced at the facility during the shift – enough to provide over 35,000 meals. While this effort involved more than our small group of students, I am very proud of our residents’ contributions in time, energy, and resources to make it happen.

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Together against bullying

UNITED FOR KINDNESS, ACCEPTANCE AND INCLUSION

#unityday2015

160,000 students skip school each day because of bullying and 3.2 million students are bullied each year. Students who experience bullying are at increased risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, and poor school adjustment (pacer.org).

At Northwest Passage, we work hard to teach our residents compassion and kindness. Through daily programming, weekly groups and special events, the girls at Prairieview are given many opportunities to learn and practice positive social behaviors that foster empathy and tolerance.

For example, the girls participate in a weekly character development group that covers a variety of traits including: compassion, empathy, respect, tolerance, attitude, preparation, honesty, integrity, self-control, and responsibility. The group allows for a safe space for discussion and personal growth through discussion, activities and weekly homework. The girls also have weekly unit goals that target their interpersonal skills while in treatment, focusing on effective communication and respect for others.

On October 21, 2015, Unity Day was celebrated nationwide and Prairieview participated in full force. The girls participated in a variety of activities including t-shirt decorating and team chalk murals. All staff members were involved as well, with every person in the building wearing orange t-shirts that they personally decorated. The chalk mural project challenged the girls to make a final product that showcased their individual talents as well as their ability to problem solve and work together. 16 residents were split up in to teams and given blank chalkboard canvases and a picture that they had to re-create. The process was amazing to watch and unfolded beautifully. Initially, the teams struggled to communicate and respect each other’s comfort levels with the task. Many groups had to start over while others had to make adjustments throughout the process to keep their artwork consistent. The girls spent several hours working on their pieces and strived for perfection. The murals exceeded all expectations and allowed for very productive, creative and fun team building project. The girls beamed with pride, showing off big smiles as staff expressed their excitement over the finished products. The murals are now hung around the building, reminding all staff and residents on a daily basis that when all differences are set aside, you can work together and be successful!

Your donations make projects like this possible. You are with us when we are teaching these teens to respect each other and show compassion and kindness to everyone they meet. You make it happen. Anything you give makes a difference. Thank you for your support.

Northwest Passage is dedicated to the social care of our kids. This is done through events like Unity Day, where they are taught not to bully their peers, but instead to show respect for all people.

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