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Travel to the Apostle Islands with our kids

Travel Logs of an Expedition of Healing

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This fall, six of Northwest Passage’s Prairieview residents traveled to North America’s third coast, the shores of Lake Superior, for their capstone project in the latest chapter of New Light Under the Surface. We ventured north to spend time in this beautiful place and to work in partnership with the National Park Service staff of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and with Artist in Residence photographer, Andrew Walsh. This adventure was made possible thanks in part to the financial support of Wisconsin Sea Grant and The National Park Service Submerged Resources Center.

Lake Superior welcomed the group with unusually warm and calm water, clear skies, and a sunny disposition. We spent two nights and three days camping four miles from the mainland on Sand Island, near the Bayfield Peninsula, the western-most tip of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore on which camping is permitted.

Getting to the Island

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For the majority of the residents, our first night camping on Sand Island was also their first night sleeping in a tent. It goes without saying that there was much preparation for the trip. In addition to the snorkeling and photography skills they learned and put into practice this summer, the group learned how to set up and take down a tent and how to ‘make their bedroom,’ how to pack a backpack, and how to plan their meals for wilderness camping. By the time we boarded the Park Service boat at Little Sand Bay the girls were well prepared for our adventure.

Great Lakes Fisheries Biologist Jay Glase captained the boat, a sturdy craft with powerful twin outboard motors. It was also equipped with a ramp that can be lowered for loading cargo and passengers directly onto the beach, but most importantly, so that we could slip safely into the water for aquatic exploration.

The water was perfect by Lake Superior standards. A gentle breeze pushed up 1-2 foot waves which was just enough to make water spray across the deck as we cruised to the Island, bouncing over waves.

“Being on the boat gave me an adrenaline rush. I had never been on a boat before. It felt so good as the mist of the cold water hit my face. I watched the waves from the side of the boat fly up. It was so relaxing to watch and brought me so much excitement.” 

Jourdyn, age 15

Setting Up Camp

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Upon arriving at East Bay on Sand Island, Jay ran the boat right in to the shallow water and lowered the bow ramp. The group formed a chain and worked together to unload the mountain of gear. We thanked Jay for safe passage and waved as he departed back to the mainland. The group was now on the island and began to settle in for the next three days.

The girls put their camping skills to practice and spent that afternoon setting up camp. Pitching tents, assembling the camp kitchen, building tarp shelters, and gathering firewood. They helped one another out, sharing what they remembered of their training when others got stuck. Once camp was settled, we spent the afternoon getting to know our little corner of the nearly 3000 acre island.

“The two points on the island jut out on both sides of me. They’re slightly curved, as if giving me a hug and telling me I’m safe, nothing will hurt me. The island is protecting me. From what? I don’t know. But the secluded peace of it all gives me a great sense of security.

To my right is the mainland, the place where we parked the car and left. Not only did I leave the town and commotion behind, I left my troubles too. The 2 a.m. thoughts of self-hatred, the constant fear of what comes next, the horrific desire to not desire, the trance of unworthiness that fogs my mind.”

Rachel, age 15

First Night on the Island

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After dinner the group rallied the energy to hike the nearly three miles to the northern tip of the Island. We hiked through old growth white pine and cedar and arrived at a small peninsula upon which the historic 135 year old Sand Island lighthouse sits. We got there just in time to catch the brilliant colors of the sunset and see the first of the stars emerge overhead.

Artist in Residence, Andrew Walsh, provided instruction and guidance on sunset photography as the group took in the wild remoteness of the place. We played in the rock pools and explored what felt like the ‘edge of the earth.’

As night set in, we departed back to camp, the group persevered through the long hike back on a dark and buggy trail by singing and joking as we followed the lights of our headlamps. When we arrived back at our well-made camp at East Bay, everyone settled in for the night to get some much needed rest.

“The most challenging part of this trip was coming back from the lighthouse, when I got my hair stuck in the bug tent and the gnats swarmed my face because my headlamp was still on. This showed me that I can overcome struggles.

Hailey, age 14

Exploring the Caves at Swallow Point

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The next morning brought perfect weather – again! By the time our boat arrived promptly at 8:45 the group had eaten, cleaned, and secured camp. They were ready and waiting in wetsuits when Julie Van Stappen, Chief of Planning and Resource Management, and their boat captain for the day, arrived on the beach. We boarded with gear and cameras in hand and traveled up the shoreline to Swallow Point.

The Caves at Swallow point are one of the most notable geological features of the Apostle Islands. Their beauty is rivaled only by the caves on Devil’s Island and the mainland caves at Mawikwe Bay (which received international notoriety and tens of thousands of visitors during the winter of 2013).

The caves at these unique locations are formed from red sandstone that has slowly eroded to create arches, tunnels, and deep caverns. They are a living geological feature that continues to be gradually broken down by ice in the winter and smoothed by wave action in the summer. These caves have been photographed by hundreds of explorers and dozens of professionals. But never before have they been explored and photographed like this.

The group stood on the deck and was given guiding words of inspiration and safety by Ranger Van Stappen and their team leaders. We then slipped into the water in teams of three, two “buddies” and a team leader in each pod, and swam to the caves.

As we approached the Sea Caves there were three things that stood out; the geology, the crystal blue clarity of the water, and the sound of the waves ‘galumping’ against the hollows of the stone. To many, the idea of swimming into a cave, in deep cold water would be a terrifying and claustrophobic proposition beyond imagination. These six brave young women dove in and didn’t look back. They boldly went forward chasing their curiosity and the opportunity for just the right shot.

“I felt so calm. I was in my own little world. I didn’t worry about all the stressors going on in my everyday life. I left that all behind. I just sat back and listened to those beautiful waves and took amazing underwater shots.”

Jourdyn, age 15

Going Below the Surface

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The unparalleled beauty of these caves can only be fully experienced by seeing both the above water and below water elements of them. The caves that arch overhead, also arch underwater and it takes unique skill and equipment to capture the whole picture. Fortunately the group was equipped with the eye and the gear to do so.

They were driven by the inspiration that they had the unprecedented opportunity to share the beauty of this global treasure with thousands of others. They were bringing the Apostle Islands to the rest of the world.

The excellent weather made hours of photography both above and below the water possible. The morning sun reached far under the water’s surface making for exceptional photographic conditions. We swam deep into the caves and through the arches. After exploring nearly a quarter mile of shoreline, the morning came to a close. We swam onto the boat and returned to our campsite for lunch and conversation with Julie.

“Lake Superior is brilliantly blue. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such blue water in my life. I can see how people of other nationalities and faiths base a lot of their beliefs and practices on nature and why they cherish lakes so much.” 

Anonymous, 15

On to Eagle Island

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After eating and resting up, the group was given the unique opportunity to visit another of the Apostles. Julie ferried us around Sand Island and across three miles of open water to Eagle Island. Eagle Island, one of the smallest of the islands, sits on the far western edge of the National Lakeshore. It serves as a bird refuge and people are barred from stepping foot on dry ground there for 6 months of the year – fortunately for the group, they were remaining in the aquatic realm.

We spent the remainder of the afternoon exploring the submerged rocky ledges and deep crevasses of Eagle Island’s north shore.

By the time Julie had to part ways, the cameras were full of images and our bodies and minds were out of energy.

We returned to camp and wound down day number two on Sand Island.

“Riding on the boat with Ranger Julie Van Stappen made me feel like I was special, that she truly loved taking us out and watching us.  I hope one day I could have her take me to more of the islands.” 

Kim, age 15

Heading Back to the Mainland

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Day three defied the forecast and blew expectations out of the water. Instead of the thunderstorms and high waves that were predicted there were gentle clouds on the horizon and clear blue skies above. The water was again, warm and calm in the sheltered East Bay.

We packed up and cleaned the campsite then spent the morning with our guest, Artist in Residence, Andrew Walsh. Andrew has volunteered time with Northwest Passage on two previous occasions, but this was a first for him to join a group on an expedition. On the days previous he had joined the group in the water and on land offering professional insight and tips, he had also spent time doing night photography with the girls the evening before.

This morning he set up on shore and gave the photographers the opportunity to be the stars on the other side of the lens.

After lunch, we loaded the mountain of gear onto the boat and boarded the boat heading back to the mainland. It was bittersweet partings leaving the place that we had all formed a strong bond with over the course of three short days.

Early in my career I spent four years instructing and guiding sea kayaking in the Apostle Islands. I spent thousands of hours paddling and countless nights camping in the Islands. I ushered hundreds of guests to and from the shores of the mainland out to these gems of Lake Superior. Not until this trip, did I realize the potential of this place to help those, in the most dire need of nature’s elixir, find hope and healing.

Ian Karl, Experiential Programming Coordinator

“Into the water I went. Washing away the pain the scars left. I watched the memories float down. Away from my thoughts, away from me. Submerged in the peaceful currents. I let myself go for just a moment. As I rose up out of the water. The sun seemed to shine brighter.”

Jade, age 16

Every child’s journey to mental health at Northwest Passage incorporates therapeutic elements such as those encountered while at the Apostle Islands. The girls practiced a number of therapeutic practices from time spent in nature and recreations to relaxation and time spent building relationships with peers and staff. It is opportunities like this that the girls are able to put their efforts in treatment to work in a rewarding and awesome way.

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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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In a New Light to visit the Dry Tortugas

UNFORGETTABLE UNDERWATER EXPERIENCE FUNDED BY NPS

Northwest Passage has long crafted experiential programs that harness the transformative power of water, national parks, adventure, and awe. Soon these four elements will come together in the most powerful way imaginable as we embark on an underwater photography expedition to Dry Tortugas National Park.

This tiny cluster of islands in the Gulf of Mexico, 70 miles by boat from Key West, Florida, will become our home for a week. The islands were first named by famed explorer Ponce deLeon and once frequented by pirates but, cameras in hand, we’ll be seeking a different kind of treasure. The Dry Tortugas are known as one of the world’s premier snorkeling and underwater photography destinations.

This expedition is funded by the National Park Service Submerged Resources Center, a team of elite divers, photographers, and archaeologists who study and document the underwater realm of America’s National ParksBrett Seymour and Susanna Pershern, of the Submerged Resources Center, and two of the nation’s most elite underwater photographers, will be guiding and instructing our four young photographers/explorers.

The Northwest Passage team will be completed by Northland College’s Dr. Toben LaFrancois, one of our underwater photography programming leaders. Our staff is looking forward to having such a talented crew together in one spectacular place to capture the splendor of the iconic destination.

The entire experience will be captured by a film crew from Curiosity Stream, a global online documentary film channel available through most online streaming platforms. Stay tuned!

This expedition is the capstone experience for Lakeshore’s underwater photography program. For the past several years, our young New Light Under the Surface photographers have gained wide acclaim for creating a definitive artistic and ecological record of the previously unseen (and unappreciated) subsurface realm of St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, Apostles Islands National Lakeshore, and other iconic northern waters. Throughout these explorations, they’ve articulated deep insight into the transformative power of their deeply immersive experience. In doing so, they’ve created a new sense of value for our wild waters. Now, stay tuned as our artists turn their fresh lenses and emotional perspectives onto the bathwater warm coral reefs of one of America’s most remote and stunning national parks.

Ben ThwaitsProgram Development Coordinator

Northwest Passage is grateful for all of our partners that make things possible for our kids. The National Park Service Submerged Resources Center and Dr. Toben Lafrancois are two of many who have given our clients an opportunity that many of them have only dreamed of. Thank you to all these wonderful organizations and individuals who donate their resources to us!

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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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Prairieview headed to Apostle Islands

KIDS TO SHARE STORIES OF AN INCREDIBLE EXPERIENCE THROUGH THEIR PHOTOGRAPHY

Prairieview will be exploring Apostle Islands National Park and Lake Superior again this year as the capstone of their underwater photography programming. With Artist in Residence, Andrew Walsh, going along, nighttime photography will also be added to the experience.

On Monday, August 22, the group will meeting up with the National Park Service Apostle Islands crew at Little Sand Bay Visitor Center. Some of the group will be kayaking, while others will ride the NPS boat from Little Sand Bay to Sand Island. After arriving and setting up camp, the kids will have time to explore the beach and island.

The next two days will be spent underwater taking photos at Swallow Point Sea Caves, along with kayaking, while their nights will be spent trying out night sky photography with Andrew on East Bay and at the Sand Island Lighthouse.

Northwest Passage thrives to bring new experiences to our kids. Over the past couple years, our teenage explorers have set out on an adventure that few have experienced with underwater photography. They have learned about and documented the underwater ecosystems of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway through stunning photographs. This journey continues in 2016 as they dive deeper into Lake Superior and other local lakes and rivers. The photographs they capture not only represent the kids’ exploration and discovery of the world underwater, but also of themselves.

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Swimming with a Pro

SACHI CUNNINGHAM, PRO FILMMAKER, COMES FOR 3-DAY ARTIST IN RESIDENCE

 

In an already exciting and highly productive season of underwater photography at Northwest Passage, we’re thrilled about the upcoming visit of acclaimed filmmaker and photographer Sachi Cunningham. A resident of San Francisco, Sachi’s work often centers on water stories.  Next week she’ll become part of our young photographers’ stories as she dives in as a guest mentor and Artist in Residence.

From her bio at sachicunningham.com:

“Sachi Cunningham is a documentary filmmaker and Professor of Multimedia Journalism at San Francisco State University. Her award winning stories have screened at festivals worldwide, and on outlets including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, PBS FRONTLINE, FRONTLINE/World and the Discovery Channel. The Emmys, Webbys, and Pictures of the Year International have honored Cunningham’s work. A graduate of UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and Brown University, Cunningham’s documentaries focus on international conflict, the arts, disability, and the ocean environment. On land she has turned her lens everywhere from the first presidential election in Afghanistan, to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In the water, she has swum with her camera along side everything from 350-pound blue fin tuna to big wave surfers, to Olympian, Michael Phelps. Once an assistant to actress Demi Moore and Director/Producer/Writer Barry Levinson, Cunningham brings a decade of experience in feature films and commercial productions in New York, Hollywood and Tokyo to her career in journalism and filmmaking.”

Sachi’s most recent film, The Memory of Fish, about the intertwined and precarious journeys of people and salmon on the Elwha River in Washington, was just nominated for a Panda Award—also called the “Green Oscars”— which is considered the highest accolade in the environmental film and TV industry.  Congratulations, Sachi!

Sachi will be swimming and photographing with our Prairievew girls all day Monday, followed by a film showing and discussion at Prairivew of It Ain’t Pretty a film about women’s big wave surf culture in California. Sachi was both helped shoot and was featured in this film. Then on Tuesday she’ll hang out with our Lakeshore boys.

You can check out some of Sachi’s work on her website and follow her on twitter!

 

Northwest Passage is dedicated to the artistic growth of our kids. We do this through programs like Artist in Residence (AiR). AiR is designed to provide a therapeutic experience with the arts for our kids with talented artists and craftsmen.

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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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Artist in Residence: Eric Genuis and Musicians Perform for Kids

THE MESSAGE RESOUNDED THROUGH PASSAGE

Composer, pianist, and performer, Eric Genuis, accompanied by a violinist, cellist, and another singer, returned as an Artist in Residence to play for the kids of Northwest Passage for the second time in eight months. Back in October, Eric and his team played at our Gallery. This time these talented musicians spent their time playing at our Frederic location for over 30 of the kids from our programs.

Eric made the concert interactive by walking among them, asking them questions, and looking to them for questions and comments. His message was about beauty, how music has an influence on each of us, and how we should all surround ourselves with things of hope and encouragement. They played and talked for over two hours.

One of the kids said to the musicians, “your cello reminds me of my mom. It’s like the cello is the mommy, the violin is the kid, and the piano is the foster kid!”

Kristy Echeverria, Northwest Passage Weekend Counselor, describes the experience:

I have worked with kids from all walks of life and every end of the spectrum since 2008. In this time, I have found that they have one particular thing in common, their love and passion for music. It is not only love for music but also the effect that music has on them.

Eric Genuis coming in and playing for the kids at Northwest Passage was an incredible experience. The kids were so engaged and in awe of the beauty that took place. For many of them this was the first time they had heard music that wasn’t playing on the Pop charts.

They responded incredibly well to Eric’s messages. They really absorbed his main message on how what music we put in our brains is the type of output we get. Not only did he demonstrate this by playing three types of music to the same story, but he also discussed his knowledge of other artists. It was wonderful to see their reactions when Eric was able to list off facts about the artists they are currently listening to.

As he spoke, I was able to see a small, fiery passion spark in many of the kids. Several asked questions and a few even had the opportunity to have a small jam session with him after the show.

Eric truly brought an amazing message that seemed to hit home with many. They even continued to discuss it days later. He did a great job, not only performing, but being able to engage in a more personal manner with them. We are truly thankful that he and his musicians took the time to share their talents, passions, and messages.

 

  • All photos and video were shot by Prairieview residents. To learn more about Eric Genuis, check out this VIDEO

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Tune into WPR for Lexie’s take on residential treatment

RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT CHANGES LIVES

When Lexie came to Northwest Passage, she was a diamond in the rough. Under all her pain and trauma was a beautiful individual waiting to become her best self. She exemplifies why we do what we do. We’re not surprised by her successes and we’re certainly not surprised by how eloquently she spoke about her experiences while here at Passage in a recent Wisconsin Public Radio interview. Take a moment to listen to what she has to say about her experience at PASSAGE ON WPR.

CHECK OUT SOME OF LEXIE’S WORK

“Nature has help me find myself, by teaching me about myself.”

Strength

“Anyone can give up, it’s the easiest thing to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength.” ~ I relate to this quote because when life got hard, many people left because I was a ‘lost cause’, I came back a stronger, better, sober person. It would have been easy to give up, quit and go back to old habits, and sometimes I still feel like giving up, but I like who I am. I wouldn’t want to be anybody different.

Mirror

What seems like so long ago I saw someone I hated, a monster staring back at me, not my reflection. But now upon a second look I see someone new, someone beautiful. All it took was another glance, and a little bit of effort to peel back the mask that was plastered on so tight. I look into the mirror now and see me.

Remember

One day I will be old and my skin gray, my hair white as freshly fallen snow, my voice will croak as if I were a frog. One day my days will be numbered, my skin will be wrinkled and creased, my hair may no longer be, and my voice will just be a haunting song. One day I will cease to exist. A few trinkets and odds and ends no home to permanently reside, snippets of memory will play from time to time, but nothing of real value. And given a few more years I will be nothing. Not a distant memory, no words to dance though your mind, nothing will be left except a ghost of me.

LISTEN TO LEXIE’S INTERVIEW ON WISCONSIN PUBLIC RADIO

At Northwest Passage we know the power of residential treatment first hand – we see it every day! Our treatment provides a safe space for kids to heal, the time and support to develop new tools and skills for coping with the stresses of dealing with mental health issues, and provides access to a truly therapeutic lifestyle and environment designed to support long-term wellness into the future. In fact, clients in residential treatment improve significantly and “maintain their treatment gains at follow-up” providing hope for a long-term impact on their overall wellness.

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Artists’ Adventures Begin

KIDS WORK WITH ARTIST CAIT IRWIN AT HER SUMMER STUDIO, SCHAEFER CABIN ON THE NAMEKAGON RIVER

In her artist’s bio on the back of the book she wrote when she was sixteen, Cait Irwin said, “…in the future I hope to help others realize the healing power of art and spending time in nature.” Some years later, on the banks of the Namekagon River in a recently restored 90 year old National Park Service cabin, Cait found herself doing just that.

Northwest Passage Riverside, Prairieview, Lakeshore, and Assessment all traveled to Schaefer Cabin this week to start their month of art workshops with Cait. She broke the ice with the groups with a walk down to the river. Afterwards she shared original paintings she had displayed on the cabin walls, the meaning and process behind creating them, and telling the kids that when you create art you are sharing a part of yourself with the world. She then sat down with the kids and talked about her personal story of mental health challenges while sharing one of her books on the subject.

Cait then set the scene for a free-drawing session. Her guidelines: respect your own art, respect the art of others, and let your art share a part of yourself. What ensued with each group was nearly an hour of focused, quiet drawing with nothing but the sounds of birds, the river, and a little classical music in the background.

The kids and Cait spent the remainder of the session discussing what they had drawn and goals for the coming weeks.

Art, for Cait, has always been a passion as well as a powerful coping skill – a means of processing her world and thoughts. In 2013, she started her business, Irwin Artworks where she does everything from pen and ink drawings to massive commissioned murals. For the kids, these trips out to the cabin are a journey into the world of a professional artist and an opportunity to step into a one of a kind, creative environment. There is art and healing in the entire process. Cait says that when the kids can take even thirty minutes out of a day to focus on nothing but drawing, it helps make new connections and gives them a break from the anxieties and distractions of everyday life.

This Artist in Residency is being made possible through a generous grant from the St. Croix Valley Foundation, The Wisconsin Arts Board and Eastern National. More about Cait can be found on her website at www.irwinartworks.com.

Ian Karl, Experiential Programming Coordinator

Join us on Thursday, June 30, from 4 – 6 p.m. in celebrating Cait’s Artist in Residence at an artist reception. We will get to see work the kids did during the month and some of Cait’s original paintings. Look forward to seeing you there!

Northwest Passage cares about the artistic growth of our kids. We invite artists to come in, as an artist in residence, to guide them on journeys of self-expression through the language of art. Cait Irwin is the artist to spend a month working with the kids. If you are an artist interested in volunteering, please visit our Artist in Residence page HERE.

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