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

Happiness through Kindness and Service

At Northwest Passage, we understand the importance of living a therapeutic lifestyle. One important element of that therapeutic lifestyle is service. Participating in service and exemplifying kindness can help not only those at the receiving end of the generosity but also those who give. Kindness is good for a person’s physical and emotional well-being. Practicing kindness can make a person happier, improve physical health, and even lengthen a person’s lifespan.

Neuroscience and psychology offer scientific evidence that shows the physical and emotional benefits of service and acts of kindness. According to research from Emory University, when a person does an act of kindness or service the pleasure centers of the brain light up. These are the same areas that light up for the person receiving the kindness. This distinct physical sensation that is associated with helping is known as the “helper’s high”. Performing acts of kindness increases the serotonin level in the brains of both the giver and recipient of the kind act; even anyone who simply witnesses the act gets the boost! This increase in the brain’s feel-good chemical causes both the giver and recipient to feel stronger, more energetic, calmer and less depressed.

Kindness also helps to build and nurture social relationships. Showing kindness and empathy helps us to relate to others, making the relationships we build more positive and fulfilling. Any behavior that gets people interacting with one another can generate positive feelings. Naturally, any activity that involves participating in service or an act of kindness involves interacting with others. In doing service you are showing kindness and compassion for another person.

Helping others also buffers the negative effects of stress on one’s well-being. By showing empathy and doing acts of kindness a person is distracted from any negative thoughts that may be weighing on themselves. By focusing on being compassionate or kind to others, a person is responding to their own pain and the other’s pain with compassion and caring action. When you tune into another’s needs and send compassionate thoughts to them it fills you with more energy. It is human nature to want to help someone that is suffering or in need of help. We care about others and it feels good to relieve the stress we feel when we see another suffering.

Being compassionate, kind, and doing acts of service produces a sense of fulfillment. By helping others, one has a greater feeling of self-worth and purpose. You feel better mentally and emotionally when you stop thinking about negative stressors in your own life and take a few moments to help someone else in need. Being kind is good for yourself and those around you.

 

 

           

We are always looking for ways to give our residents an opportunity to engage in the community through acts of service. Over the years the kiddos have shoveled snow off numerous wheelchair ramps, planted 60,000 white pines, cleaned hundreds of miles of roadsides, stacked hundreds of cords of wood for “Interfaith Caregivers”, helped set up the Siren Lions Club garage sale for the past ten years, helped load vehicles at the local food shelf and helped clean hundreds of Northwest, WI boat and canoe landings. This is just a short list of the many ways that our kiddos get involved in the community. Service not only helps the kids on their path towards hope and healing but also allows them to foster healthy relationships with community members.

By working directly with the community the residents begin the healing process by feeling wanted and accepted. Their sense of self-worth explodes in a positive direction when an elderly lady says “Thank you, young man, for helping me”.  Hope for a better tomorrow is restored by the gratitude and the shining beacon of the local community while embracing the kids within its light and showing genuine humanity and resound.

Justin Stariha

Expressive Arts Instructor

Service gives the kiddos a sense of accomplishment, pride and overall satisfaction in knowing they are contributing to a community.  Often times, service becomes an important part of their wellness plan when they leave Passage to continue their contribution to the community they return to.

Amanda Lundquist

Program Coordinator

Maple Makes the Kinni River their Studio through Partnership with Kinni River Land Trust

Our Maple unit has been given the opportunity to join in a partnership with the Kinnickinnic River Land Trust, participating in an explore the Kinni project. Every couple of weeks, the Kinni Land Trust hosts our kiddos to experience the beauty and intersection between nature and human impact. In exchange for their time and expertise, we will be taking and sharing with them photos of the beautiful Kinni River.

The kids and Kinni River volunteers have visited different sections of the river, spending time appreciating and photographing the diverse areas and scenery that the historic river has to offer. Maple has been making the Kinni their studio, taking photos at each of their visits. Along with the Land Trust volunteers, the group was joined with volunteers from Trout Unlimited. Each kiddo was paired with a volunteer to learn how to fly fish at the Red Cabin site of the restored portion of the Kinni River.

     

This partnership exemplifies multiple PassageWay elements, giving our kids a chance to practice different aspects of a therapeutic lifestyle. Being out on the Kinni River gives the residents a chance to enjoy the serenity and therapeutic benefits of nature and relaxation. Working with and spending time with the wonderful volunteers from the Kinni Land Trust and Trout Unlimited gives the kids a chance to build positive and supportive relationships. Practicing photography and learning a new skill such as fishing, is a great way to help the kids develop a passion and interest for positive hobbies that they will be able to carry with them after their time at Passage. This service project is something that is beneficial for both the kids and the partnering organization. This project gives the residents a chance to contribute to the community and share their art, as well as assisting the Kinni Land Trust in their conservation efforts by photographing the beauty of the Kinni River.

     

                       

Beauty

By: Dylan P

As soon as I saw these flowers in the prairie I got out my camera and took a picture. The beauty that lies within this picture is remarkable. It makes me happy to see nature this beautiful.

Spreading Your Wings

Taking off is the hardest part

It comes from deep within the heart

But if you don’t you won’t survive

Flying will help you thrive

So spread your wings and jump,

Because if you do

You will

FLY!

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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