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Prairieview dives deep into photography

RESIDENT DESCRIBES THE FEELING OF BEING UNDERWATER

The girls in the Northwest Passage Prairieview program have officially taken In a New Light (IaNL) off the deep end. This week, seven of the residents were able to embark on a whole new photography adventure and explore life under water. With the scuba and ecology expertise of our friends, Toben Lafrancois and Ian Karl, along with the assistance of two IaNL interns, Megan and Alex, these lucky ladies were able to capture a different world through the lens of a camera.

To say the day didn’t have its bumps would be a lie; when we got to the field it was rainy and cold, and several of the girls struggled to find equipment that would fit.  However; with the use of distress tolerance and radical acceptance, along with other DBT skills the girls have been working on mastering, attitudes quickly changed once in the water. No longer was the rain bothersome or the wetsuits too tight; the tension had been lifted. Not a word was spoken; nor was it needed as the girls floated on the surface of the lake allowing themselves to be consumed by the therapy of the water. My experience as a staff member is far less significant than that of the residents.

Kelly Vogen, Fitness Counselor

Libby, 16, – Prairieview Resident reflects on this first time experience:
“When you have a camera in your hands and curiosity in your heart, everything else suddenly becomes insignificant. It’s just you, the camera, and the world. Fear and anxiety are replaced by curiosity and excitement – you will stop at nothing to get that one shot you want, and your struggles take a backseat as the entirely new world you discover through your lens consumes you.

When you look under the surface for the first time and you see the aquatic menagerie of animals that scurry about just beneath the surface and the plants that sway peacefully in the current, it makes you stop and wonder what else you’ve been missing all this time. You’re no longer worried about what others will think of you, or about an upcoming test that has you stressed, or even financial issues – your ears are tuned into the tranquility of the underwater nothingness, and the sounds of people shouting over one another for no reason or of cars going nowhere fast have been left in an entirely different world.

Before IaNL, anxiety had been gnawing at my insides for years, until there was no peacefulness left. Everything put me on edge, and I had no escape. I was constantly angry for all the sickness I had been plagued with, for all the death I had dealt with, and anything else I could find a reason to be angry with. Through photography, I have been able to discover an inner-calm that I never knew before, and I have been able to focus my energy on capturing the beauty that the world has to offer for those who are willing to see it, instead of focusing on every single way that life has been unfair to me.

Underwater photography is especially meditative, because all you have to do is float and appreciate what surrounds you.”

 

Stop into the Gallery today and see last year’s New Light Under the Surface photography exhibit.

Northwest Passage is dedicated to teaching kids how to live a therapeutic lifestyle. The eight therapeutic lifestyle choices include: nature, recreation, relaxation, nutrition, exercise, relationships, service, and spirit. The New Light Under the Surface programming incorporates many of these choices. It gets the kids in nature. It gives them something recreational to do that they enjoy. It is relaxing for many. It moves their bodies for exercise. It builds relationships through the buddy system. It gives them time to reflect on what matters (spirit).

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Under the Surface is BACK

THE KIDS ARE BACK IN THE WATER

Thanks to the support of our 2015 Kickstarter campaign; an amazing $50,000 grant from Sea Grant, the aquatic world’s research arm; and the continued investments of the National Park Service Submerged Resources Center – New Light Under the Surface is back and stronger than ever. In addition to another season of exploration of the mystery of the great below, we will be partnering with the National Park Service Submerged Resources Center to investigate the Dry Tortugas at the end of the season.

New Light Under the Surface has made quite the splash in the water world – famed ocean scientist and New York Times bestselling author, Wallace Nichols, invited Northwest Passage to speak at the sixth annual Blue Mind conference in California where water innovators from around the country gather to celebrate the power of our most precious substance on earth. Ben and Toben traveled to the conference with the special guest – John, a past client in love with the under water world. Fellow Blue Mind Six conference attendee, Sea Change Design founder Lauralee Alben, profiled us in a recent article What’s at Risk?. Our project partner, Toben LaFrancois,wrote a fantastic piece Diary of an Aquatic Scientist that sums up just why we do what we do.

Thank you to everyone who has supported New Light Under the Surface – now come check out the fruits of the kids’ labor at our latest exhibit: New Light Under the Surface at Northwest Passage’s Gallery, just one mile south of Webster, WI on Highway 35.

WE’D LOVE TO SHOW OFF OUR NEWEST EXHIBIT TO YOU! Visit the Gallery today!

Northwest Passage is dedicated to the recreational care of our kids. After the first year of New Light Under the Surface, we discovered that many of the kids who had the chance to dive into the water to do underwater photography, found an activity that they enjoyed. We strive to find recreational activities that the kids love and will continue to do after they graduate from our programs.

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Andrew Walsh is Coming!

KIDS SEE THEMSELVES IN A NEW LIGHT, QUITE LITERALLY

For the second year in a row, we are happy to welcome home, former Webster graduate and professional commercial and fine art photographer, Andrew Walsh of Andrew Walsh Photography and Andrew Walsh Productions, to Northwest Passage. He will be here during the week of May 16 – 20 as an artist in residence at our InaNewLight Gallery. During his stay he will be inspiring our students to think big and enhance their story-telling through their fine art photography efforts in our InaNewLight programming.

In addition to this amazing experience for the kids, Andrew also spends time capturing world-class portraits of each resident allowing our kids to see themselves as the beautiful people that they are. Andrew shares these photos with our residents and we all take a moment celebrate our own unique identity and beauty as it shines out from within in the stunning photos.

At the end of this whirl-wind week, we’ll be hosting an open house showcasing Andrew’s work alongside the photographs by the Youth Artists of Northwest Passage. Consider joining us in celebrating our kids and thanking Andrew on Friday, May 20 at 4 PM – 6 PM at the Gallery.

We thank him for sharing his talent and passion with our clients and the community and for making the trip all the way from Oregon – thanks Andrew.

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Northwest Passage Riverside Captures Gitchi Gumee In a New Light

THE YOUNG MEN OF RIVERSIDE HIT THE SHORES OF LAKE SUPERIOR

Experiential learning on the shores of Lake Superior connects boys to nature, history, and even themselves.

Gitchi Gumee, otherwise known as Lake Superior, lies just over an hour’s drive up the road from Northwest Passage Riverside – practically in our own backyard! Over the course of the next year, the young men at Riverside will turn their camera lenses and desire for adventure to “the Big Lake” while they learn about culture, history, and the environment. They will explore the tributaries, shorelines, lighthouses and beaches while they capture the many faces of the lake and discover the healing power of Gitchi Gumee.

So why are we so excited about spending time at the shores of Gitchi Gumee? Well, for anyone who’s ever been there, it is obvious. But just to be clear let’s talk a little more about her. She is the biggest body of freshwater on earth. Three quadrillion gallons of it sloshing around in a sand and stone basin that was formed by volcanic activity over a billion years ago. From east to west the Lake is just over 350 miles long. From north to south, 160 miles. One could more easily travel from Miami to Seattle than trace each foot of shoreline* along the Lake. The water is home to 78 species of fish, countless invertebrates, mammals and birds. It is so clear that  along most of its coast you can see down deep, to the sandy bottom. However, it’s much deeper than you can see – over 1300 feet at its greatest depth east of the Keweenaw Peninsula. If Lake Superior were drained it would cover the entirety of North America in about a foot and a half of water.

Gitchi Gumee is far more than facts and figures and math and measurements, though. She is calm waves on endless beaches. She is distant horizons with hopeful sunrises and reflective sunsets. She is ice-heaved shorelines in the middle of January and ten foot tall crashing waves on rocky cliffs in October. She is the tributaries and coastal wetlands of her watershed. She is an inland sea with many faces and countless moods.

Please follow our adventures and get to know Gitchi Gumee a little better… and along the way, our special young men.

*If you paddle your kayak fast and you can take some shortcuts, you can make it around in about two months…trust me.

Ian Karl – Experiential Programming Coordinator for Northwest Passage

 

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Prairieview at the Birkebeiner!

SEE THIS HISTORIC SKI EVENT THROUGH THE EYES OF OUR KIDS

Six young ladies from Prairieview traveled north and braved the bone-chilling rain to volunteer and capture some special moments of the skiers as they traverse the trail in their final miles.

The 43rd American Birkebeiner took place over the past weekend and Northwest Passage was there to capture the action. The young ladies of Prairieview volunteered at the Gravel Pit Aid Station with helping hands. They passed out water, energy drinks, and snacks to the racers. Some of the fastest cross country skiers in the world were on hand along with dedicated citizen racers from around the country. The girls from Prairieview not only volunteered but captured the excitement and emotion of the ski marathon with their cameras.

Under the Surface showing in Cable

An exhibit featuring the New Light Under the Surface photographs was recently held at the Cable Natural History Museum. Several of the kids got the chance to showcase their talents and gain some well-deserved pats on the back.

The girls each showed off photographs they had taken under the surface and gave moving speeches about their underwater experience.

See other underwater photos on the online gallery at: New Light Under the Surface.

Underwater photography’s second year is up and running

What’s that sound you hear? It is the collective sigh from a group of therapists, project coordinators, and most importantly kids, in northwestern Wisconsin. We’re all breathing sighs of relief because our second year of underwater photography programming, New Light: Under the Surface, is up and running after a month of training and practice.

Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, a warm spring, and a little flexibility from everyone, we’ve been able to get our kids out and into the water four weeks in a row, where much healing and adventure takes place.

Follow us from safety training to critter finding below:

Week One: Safety Training

Week Two: Testing the Waters

Week Three: Getting the Hang of Things – Girls & Boys!

Week Four: Rainy Day Adventures

We’re devoted to providing our kids with a wide range of experiential therapy opportunities and underwater photography is just one of the many things our kids get to do while here. Check out all that we’re up to on our Facebook page or follow our blog to learn more.

Help expand our programming with Kickstarter

Help expand our underwater photography programming by supporting our Kickstarter campaign today. To donate visit our project, Under the Surface.

Last summer, we did an experiment. After four years of being awed by the astonishing strength and artistry of the youth in our In a New Light therapeutic nature photography program, we decided to venture under the surface.  Funded by a National Park Service grant, our intrepid teens created a stunning and unprecedented collection of underwater photos of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway.  But even more importantly, the water brought out a level of skill, passion, and resilience that blew everyone away.  The “New Light Under the Surface” experiment worked.

This year,  we need your help to expand the world’s first and only therapeutic underwater photography program to accomplish the following goals:

1.  Double the number of youth doing underwater photography by expanding our programming to the Northwest Passage girls’ facility.

2. Expand our expeditions to build image collections of our region’s beautiful lake ecosystems, including Lake Superior and its watershed.

3. Publish a hardcover coffee table book of images to share with the world.

We’d be honored if you’d join us in this mission.

Watch the video and learn more by visiting our project today!

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