Contact us Monday through Friday 8:00am CST to 4:00pm CST at 715-327-4402

Spring Break with Sasquatch!

Bigfoot spotted at Riverside campus!

Most kids get a week off school for spring break, and the kids of Northwest Passage’s Riverside program were able to enjoy some fun as well. The theme for the week was “BIGFOOT” and our residents were able to incorporate the theme into many areas of their day.

School lessons for the week focused on the lore of Bigfoot and discussions supporting both views of this mythical creature. The kids watched Monster Quest episodes from the History Channel and other educational documentaries to learn about the various sightings and scientific evidence both supporting and refuting the existence of Bigfoot. The kids made and decorated Bigfoot cutout cookies in Culinary Arts class and enjoyed Bigfoot coloring pages, word searches, connect the dots, and math problems.

Expressive Arts offered the boys a chance to create custom fit cardboard Bigfoot slippers. They also embarked on a Bigfoot photography field trip expedition, set up a trail camera on the peninsula to try to catch the elusive Sasquatch on film, and played Bigfoot Bingo with custom playing cards.

The week culminated with the Bigfoot Dash. The kids strapped on their cardboard Bigfoot slippers and took turns running a timed obstacle course. There were a lot of laughs as the boys navigated the challenges of running with big feet! There were no losers, however, as each runner was rewarded with a Bigfoot cutout cookie at the end of the race. The week of fun concluded on Friday night with popcorn and a movie – “Harry and the Hendersons” of course!

The Bigfoot Dash

Step 1: Ready, set, GO!

Step 3: Tap the pole 5 times!

Step 5: Hide like Bigfoot!

Step 7: Hit the garden gnomes with a raw egg!

Step 9: Get the rubber chicken in the hole!

Step 2: Jump the hurdle!

Step 4: HOWL like Bigfoot!

Step 6: Clear another hurdle!

Step 8: Hula-Hoop 5 times!

Step 10: Enjoy a Bigfoot cookie!

Under the Surface Collection Makes an Impact

A selection of iconic photographs from Northwest Passage’s “Under the Surface” collection recently inspired visitors to the Dwight Foster Public Library in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. The exhibit, entitled “Under the Surface”, hung in the library from March 1 to April 1, 2019, and was one of the most attended exhibits held in the library’s history. Anne Moser, librarian for the Wisconsin Water Library at UW-Madison, held a talk on March 9 entitled “Great Lakes Challenges and Opportunities”  as a compliment to the underwater photography on display.

Many library visitors felt compelled to write to the artists and share their thoughts and interpretations of the exhibit.

Wow! Absolutely gorgeous and inspiring. I hope you give yourselves credit not only for your talent but for the courage it takes to be vulnerable enough to share yourself with others in this way. Thank you for touching my heart today, and best wishes to you all.

Nichole

Visitor, Dwight Foster Public Library

This exhibit took my breath away. What a fantastic program! I am blown away by how these kids have overcome pain and hardship and channeled emotions and experiences into creating great art. Thank you for sharing!

Yoyi

Visitor, Dwight Foster Public Library

Amazing photos. So very proud of these young artists, not only for their photos but for the difficult changes they are making in their lives. Wonderful program!

Pat

Visitor, Dwight Foster Public Library

I am the librarian responsible for bringing exhibits to our library. This exhibit generated the most comments – all positive – of any exhibit we have had in the past 8 years. People loved the subject and quality of the photos. They were moved by statements of the students. They were happy to hear about the great program that produced the exhibit. Kudos to all.

Amy Lutzke

Assistant Director/Reference, Dwight Foster Public Library

The Dwight Foster Public Library has a long and interesting history and operates in its second century with a proud record of achievement. Since its inception in 1890, the library has added greatly to the quality of the cultural life of its community with a constantly expanding variety of educational and informative materials and services including a community space to showcase art, like that of Northwest Passage residents, that addresses environmental and mental health issues.

Meet Dr. Jennifer Olson

Dr. Jennifer Olson, PSY.D.

Dr. Jennifer Olson, PSY.D.

Pediatric Neuropsychologist

Northwest Passage is pleased to welcome Dr. Jennifer Endre Olson, Psy.D. to the clinical team at our Prairieview campus. Dr. Olson holds a doctoral degree in Clinical Child Psychology with a specialization in child and adolescent psychopathology. She received intensive training in pediatric psychology, developmental psychopathology, and neuropsychology while at LaRabida Children’s Hospital and the University of Chicago. She completed her post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Chicago with Catherine Lord, Ph.D., widely recognized as the foremost authority in the early diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders. At LaRabida, she became a certified independent trainer on the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS, ADOS-2, and ADOS-T) and the Autism Diagnostic Interview (ADI-R). Through continued association with Dr. Lord, the University of Michigan and Boston Children’s Hospital, Dr. Olson solidified her own sub-specialty on the diagnosis of autism. Now internationally recognized herself, Dr. Olson has spent much of the past two decades teaching and training others about assessment and the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders. With this expertise, she has conducted hundreds of clinical and research trainings across five continents and in more than two dozen countries.

Dr. Olson was recognized in British Columbia, Canada in 2006 with an Award for Service to the Autism Community and again in 2008 with an Education Award as part of the British Columbia Autism Assessment Network (BCAAN) for her work setting up a training-based, province-wide network of diagnostic services and recurring refresher education programs.

In addition to clinical practice, Dr. Olson’s expertise has facilitated involvement in a number of longitudinal genetic and epidemiological studies on Autism Spectrum Disorders, including

  • the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) Pathways in ASD Project, one of the largest and longest-running longitudinal studies of the development of young children and adolescents with ASD,
  • the Epilepsy Phenome Genome Project, a genetic study evaluating de novo mutations in children with epileptic encephalopathies;
  • the Simons Simplex Collection (SSC), a core project of the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) that established the first permanent repository of genetic samples from 2,600 simplex families and
  • the Simons Variation Individuals Project which probed phenotypic variation, and in particular the phenotypic expression of individuals with a deletion or duplication of chromosomal segment 16p11.2.

Additionally, Dr. Olson holds positions as a visiting instructor at the University of British Columbia, and Ovspring Developmental Clinic, Singapore. She has also served as adjunct professor at both Ball State University and the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. 

Dr. Olson continues to pursue clinical research interests related to the assessment of Autism Spectrum Disorders in diverse populations, particularly in developing countries such as India where, as a co-project lead of PICAN, the Provincial Autism Resource Center Indo-Canada Autism Network, she maintains a clinical/research Autism Training Autism Network.

Dr. Olson’s motivation for doing her work is to understand the complexity of each child, help them to believe in themselves, realize their strengths and appreciate their resiliency.

Meet Dr. Michael Woodin

Dr. Michael Woodin, PH.D.

Dr. Michael Woodin, PH.D.

Pediatric Neuropsychologist

Northwest Passage is pleased to welcome Dr. Michael Woodin, Ph.D. to the clinical team at our Prairieview campus. Dr. Woodin’s strong background in pediatric neuropsychological assessment and intervention makes him a welcome member of the team. In addition to his neuropsychological background, Dr. Woodin formerly served as a Graduate Program Director and Clinical Professor at Miami University where he focused on courses in psychological assessment, evidence-based interventions, collaboration with educational and medical professionals, neurodevelopmental disorders, and teacher education. While working in higher education, Dr. Woodin actively worked as a neuropsychologist in service to urban and rural school districts providing direct service and consultation to teachers, administrators, students, and their families. He was comfortable providing services in the schools as he previously worked as a teacher, English Department Head, and Special Educational Administrator.

Dr. Woodin is an expert in neurodevelopmental disorders who has authored current books on brain research, childhood development, assessment, clinical case studies, and special education. He has conducted and published neuropsychological research in the areas of behavioral genetics, neurocognitive phenotypes, the 22q11.2 microdeletion syndrome, attention, executive functioning, working memory, giftedness, anxiety, and evidence-based interventions for use in school and clinical settings.

Before joining Northwest Passage, Dr. Woodin worked as a pediatric neuropsychologist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the Rush-Presbyterian Medical Center in Chicago, and in private practice. He received his training in Pediatric Psychology, Pediatric Neuropsychology, assessment, and therapy through the Children’s Seashore House and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where he completed his residency. He also completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in Pediatric Neuropsychology at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in Philadelphia where he was part of a team that completed groundbreaking research on the neuropsychological profile of children with velocardiofacial syndrome, a genetic condition that has links to schizophrenia, mental health concerns, and childhood problems with social cognition. 

Dr. Woodin has consulted at the state and national levels and worked extensively with public, private, and charter schools to effect positive change for students, staff, and parents. He spent several years as a teacher and administrator for a private and residential summer school program in Vermont for individuals with learning disabilities. Dr. Woodin has presented at international, national, and state conferences and has actively trained professionals such as psychologists, teachers, administrators, and graduate students.

Dr. Woodin is proud to be married to Teresa, his wife of 23 years and to be the father of his two teenage sons, Connor and Brendan. Dr. Woodin is thrilled to work with the children and teens who come to Northwest Passage by giving them a great overall assessment, finding their strengths as well as identifying their weaknesses, and helping them to move forward and live a life worth living.

Valentine’s Day Love

KIDS FIND MEANING IN MESSAGES OF SUPPORT AND HOPE

In mid-January, we mailed blank cards to our supporters and asked them to fill those cards with messages of support and hope for our kids to receive on Valentine’s Day. The response was overwhelming and we received 180 personal and inspirational messages to share with the residents of Northwest Passage.

Being away from home is hard on the best of days, but can be particularly lonely on a holiday. These messages let the kids know there are people out there who are thinking of them, supporting them and believe they can overcome their current challenges. The messages received were impactful for our residents and they were very grateful for those who took the time to think of them on Valentine’s Day.

Thank you so much. Thanks for believing in me when no one else did.

Kaleb, 12

Happy Valentine’s Day! Thank you so much for the card. It was one of the best parts of my day, receiving such a positive message and motivating one as well. It helps a lot knowing there is someone out there acknowledging my progress and who cares about us!

Anonymous

I am a resident at Northwest Passage Riverside. I have received Valentine’s cards from you and I just want to say thank you for your generosity and kindness. It’s nice to know that there are people out in the world that care. You are really doing a great thing with writing these cards because there are people that don’t get anything. Thank you very much!

Jayden, 16

Happy Valentine’s Day! I really liked your cards. They were really heartwarming. You made my whole day. This kind of stuff makes me want to just go an extra mile here at Passage. Thank you for all of the support.

Anonymous

Our residents felt moved to write these messages of thanks after receiving their Valentine’s cards. These simple acts of kindness had a profound effect on those who received the cards and provided the kids with motivation to continue their hard work at Northwest Passage. Thank you!

Creating positive and supportive relationships fits into the Northwest Passage philosophy of living a therapeutic lifestyle every day. Read more about the eight elements at http://nwpltd.org/passageway/.

2018 Equine Assisted Roundup

EQUINE THERAPY OFFERS A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY FOR HEALING

2018 marked the first year that both of Northwest Passage’s treatment programs – Riverside and Prairieview – had their own dedicated Equine Assisted Growth and Learning teams located directly on their campuses! Kayla Rinkel, LMFT led the herd at the Riverside campus and Angela Fredrickson, LCSW coordinated the intervention at the Prairieview campus. 

Each child residing at Riverside during the summer was engaged in equine assisted psychotherapy. The team was able to incorporate equine learning into every Dialectical Behavioral Therapy skills group. The Alcohol and Other Drug Addiction group went to the arena to practice avoiding temptations and work on building stable foundations for living back in the community. Riverside residents also had the opportunity to incorporate equine therapy into their individual therapy throughout the summer months. Additionally, several kids took the lead to care for the horses by cleaning the arena, feeding the horses, and making sure they had water.

At Prairieview, a trauma-focused group was piloted that the participants dubbed “Triple H – Horses, Humans, Hope”. This group utilized the collaboration of expressive arts teacher Molly Thompson and therapist Gina Lundervold-Foley to join the interventions of psychoeducation, art, and equine learning. The equine team was also available to support both individual and family therapy throughout the summer months.  In addition, this fall each treatment team in the Prairieview program had the opportunity to experience equine intervention first-hand as they engaged in team building with their co-workers. 

Of course, equine therapy could not happen without our four-legged therapy partners. Much appreciation to Angel, Dreamer, Velvet, Lienies, Cindy, Buck, Casey, Sakota, and Emma!

Please support Equine Assisted Therapy and other unique opportunities for hope and healing!

Equine Therapy incorporates many elements of the PassageWay, our guide to living a therapeutic lifestyle. In addition to providing an opportunity for recreation and relaxation in nature, horses require relationships to be built in order to trust. Learning to build trusting relationships is an important life skill and the core of our human experience.

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The Greatest Show

PRAIRIEVIEW’S TALENTED DANCE SQUAD PERFORMS FOR A FULL HOUSE

 

The energy level in the Prairieview gymnasium was high on the afternoon of December 14, 2018. You could hear a pin drop as the Razzle Dazzle Groove Squad filed in, heads bowed and hands clasped behind backs. This, however, was the only silent moment of the afternoon. Once the dancers took the floor the music, applause, and cheers of support filled the room with wonderful noise!

The performance began with four solo dances and culminated with a group dance featuring ten kids. The audience, consisting of Northwest Passage residents, staff members and family and friends of the dancers, were treated to light refreshments following the performance. The teens were enthusiastic as they greeted their fans and supporters, and the pride they had for their work was evident in the smiles on their faces.

The Razzle Dazzle Groove Squad is a group that meets on a weekly basis to promote mastery, healthy emotional release, empowerment, confidence, nonjudgmental attitude towards self and others, and self-expression through dance. Dancing is a positive outlet giving the teens a way to get more comfortable within their own skin, express their emotions and experiences within a creative condition, gain mastery, increase their self-esteem and overall positive emotions as well as offer yet another healthy exercise means. RDGS is a place where the teens can experience liberation and emotional release in a healthy and sustainable way. Through dance, the teens are given the opportunity to take ownership and to be creative in their treatment, working through challenges and healing.

RDGS operates in two 10-14 week seasons per year, balancing time with other experiential arts programs such as equine therapy and underwater photography. Northwest Passage staff members, Ashley E, Gina, Ashley V, and Molly, guide the students through song selection and choreography. The students are able to choose their own music for the solo dances, provided the song chosen is empowering and appropriate. The Razzle Dazzle Groove Squad members are Star’te, Mary, Grace, Victoria, Alex, Dmitry, Ari, Ellie, Emma, and Jade.

Membership in the Razzle Dazzle Groove Squad directly relates to the kids’ therapy in a variety of interesting ways and offers them a positive outlet for emotional and physical release. While the enjoyment and pursuit of dance as a hobby may not continue for everyone when their time at Northwest Passage comes to an end, the confidence gained and memories of enjoyment with their peers are certain to last a lifetime.

“Bless myself” by Lucy Hale: performed by Mary

“Scars to my beautiful” by Alessia Cara: performed by Grace

“Through all of it” by Colton Dixson: performed by Alex

“Salute” by Lil’ Mix: performed by Star’te

“Come Alive” from the Greatest Showman: performed by the Razzle Dazzle Groove Squad

Please support the Razzle Dazzle Groove Squad and other experiential learning at Northwest Passage!

The Razzle Dazzle Groove Squad incorporates many of the elements of the PassageWay, an approach to wellness that borrows from the wisdom of the past and combines it with current research about the importance of living a full and mindful lifestyle. We have learned that real, sustainable change occurs when our clients connect with their community, explore their identity, develop their passions, discover effective recreation opportunities, and move their bodies.

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“Baking” the Holidays Brighter!

Northwest Passage’s Prairieview kids bake up some holiday joy!

“If Christmas had a smell, it would be like these cookies!”. This sentiment, spoken by a resident of Northwest Passage’s Prairieview facility, added humor to an already enjoyable day at Northwoods Bakery Cafe in Frederic. During the month of December the owner of the bakery, Maria Booher, invited youth from Aspen, Willow and Maple Units to spend time in the kitchen to create sweet holiday treats. The kids rolled the dough, cut the cookies and helped with the baking, making it feel like Christmas – even while away from home.

Northwoods Bakery Cafe, located at 115 Oak Street W in Frederic, is a full-service bakery and cafe featuring daily specials and great coffee! The bakery is open daily and offers fresh bread, rolls, pastries, birthday cakes and cupcakes in addition to their delicious and festive holiday cookies. In addition to hosting Northwest Passage kids for holiday baking, the Northwoods Bakery Cafe currently employs two Prairieview residents part-time, allowing them to work in their community and earn some extra pocket money. Tracy Kronn, Northwest Passage Case Manager and Aftercare Coordinator, explained “It has been a pleasure to partner with the bakery. They have welcomed us into their family with open arms and have been a big supporter of Northwest Passage and the work we do every day with these kids. They have provided a positive work environment for our residents, who have absolutely thrived from the experience. The Christmas cookie baking extravaganza was a hit among several of our residents… who doesn’t love a little cookie therapy from time to time? We are looking forward to partnering with Northwoods Bakery Cafe for more baking sessions in the New Year”.

While the kids enjoyed the preparation and baking of the cookies, they may have enjoyed taste-testing the most! After sampling their finished product, one student declared “These cookies taste low key sweet!”, then quickly assured the baking team, that is a GOOD thing!

 

Northwest Passage is dedicated to restoring hope through innovative mental health services for children and families.

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Translations in Watercolor: Inspired by Schaefer Cabin

Residents of Prairieview Find Inspiration in Nature

Therapeutic nature photography is an important part of the healing process at Northwest Passage. The program emphasizes skilled expressive arts training and nature immersion, ultimately empowering marginalized youth to define themselves by their strengths rather than their weaknesses.

In October, residents of Prairieview took advantage of the crisp fall weather to venture to Schaefer Cabin. The colors of the changing leaves and the peaceful waters of the Namekagon River helped to inspire their work with watercolor painting. Working from their own photographs taken over previous weeks, they began their paintings inside the cozy cabin with a fire blazing in the fireplace.

While watercolor can be a difficult medium to master, the students were up for the challenge. One artist said “I’ve worked with acrylics before, but not watercolor. The colors get muddy really fast if you’re not careful. This was a learning experience”.

Once their masterpieces were complete, they were ready to be shared with the Northwest Passage staff and residents. A show entitled “Translations in Watercolor: Inspired by Schaefer Cabin” was held on November 15 at the Prairieview gymnasium in Frederic. The artists circulated and answered questions about their pieces and provided feedback for their peers. They took great pride in their watercolor paintings and enjoyed displaying them for an audience.

Northwest Passage supports living a therapeutic lifestyle we call the PassageWay. One of the elements of the PassageWay is NATURE. Spending time in Nature allows us to recenter and unplug. The sun on our faces, the wind blowing, the sounds… all come together to bring harmony to our lives.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PASSAGEWAY

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NWP CELEBRATES 40 YEARS OF HOPE & HEALING

Northwest Passage, a forerunner in residential mental health care for children and teens based in Webster, Wisconsin, is celebrating 40 years of hope and healing. Northwest Passage is dedicated to restoring hope through innovative mental health services for children and families.

Steve Ammend and Denison Tucker co-founded the development of Northwest Passage in 1978. After working together at an adolescent psychiatric unit, they had a vision to develop a mental health treatment program for adolescent boys using the wonderful natural resources of northwestern Wisconsin. Why Wisconsin? The area, beyond simply lacking in treatment programs, possessed a restorative and healing natural environment, unlike the concrete walls of the psychiatric unit they had grown accustomed to working in. After many long nights, and a rumored 37 million cups of coffee, Ammend and Tucker founded Northwest Passage on the premise that kids with mental health issues can get better in places other than a hospital. They believed healing could happen in a beautiful place, in nature, out in the woods. The founders knew then the intrinsic power nature has to heal.

From its genesis in 1978, Northwest Passage’s 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, they’ve never lost sight of the foundations all children need to be successful. Above anything else, Northwest Passage’s goal is to restore hope in their clients. By investing in the lives of marginalized youth, they are influencing and changing how mental health is ultimately treated and viewed. The transformations seen at Northwest Passage are no less than extraordinary.

 

“We had been to doctor after doctor. No one seemed to be able to tell us how to help our daughter. When we found Northwest Passage, we had little hope left. But, then the doctors listened to us and to her. The treatment team worked together to figure out the puzzle our daughter’s life had become. When they finished their assessment, they sat down with us until it all made sense. They talked to us like people, not just like professionals. And they helped us where no one else could before. Now, we know what our daughter needs and we can finally help her to get it. The careful assessment that Northwest did gave us a miracle…and gave us back all the hope we had lost.” – Parent of a Northwest Passage resident

 

A long way from the humble beginnings of one house on the banks of the Clam River, Northwest Passage now operates three distinct residential treatment programs and two group programs:

  • COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT PROGRAM provides a focused multidisciplinary health assessment centered around collaboration that generates a dynamic treatment plan. This one-of-a-kind program offers children and families a chance to stop the guesswork and find stability. The program serves boys and girls ages 6-17 in 23 beds at Northwest Passage’s Frederic, Wisconsin location.
  • INTENSIVE RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT FOR BOYS is ideal for boys experiencing significant emotional and behavioral disorders. This program blends sophisticated treatment with the teaching of essential life skills such as personal responsibility and relationship building to provide an intensive, effective, and lasting treatment experience. The program serves males ages 12-17 in 26 beds at the Riverside location in Webster, Wisconsin.
  • INTENSIVE RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT FOR GIRLS is designed for the unique needs of adolescent females. Programming focuses on increased self-esteem, development of healthy coping skills, promotional of positive relationship-building and social skills, and promotion of a connection to community. This program serves girls ages 12-17 in 24 beds at the Prairieview location in Frederic, Wisconsin.
  • NORTHWEST OASIS GROUP HOME uses preexisting community services and couples those with a stable and structured setting giving clients opportunities to experience success in their home community and assists them in a seamless transition home. This program, located in Hayward, Wisconsin, focuses on serving juvenile males ages 12-17 experiencing difficulties in their homes, schools or communities.
  • NORTHWEST TRANSITIONS is a four bed adult family home located in New Richmond, Wisconsin. The group home is contracted with St. Croix County Mental Health and is working as part of their community support program to provide services for adults who are classified by the State of Wisconsin as having emotional disturbances or mental illness.

Northwest Passage also operates the In a New Light Gallery. The gallery is the physical manifestation of the hope and healing experiences of art and nature. The first of its kind, the In a New Light Gallery showcases the artwork of Northwest Passage’s clients who are learning for the first time to navigate their lives based on the talents they hold. Opened in May of 2013, the gallery also serves as a bridge to the community – a public testament to the truly astonishing talents of children and teens who are too often marginalized with the stigma associated with their mental illness. The space provides an opportunity to create conversation and foster partnerships within the community and local tourism groups. Through art exhibitions around the United States, as well as worldwide media exposure, the young artists of Northwest Passage have touched the lives of over one million people to date. By sharing their story, In a New Light gives marginalized children a voice to prove to the world that they are profoundly worthy of society’s investment. The In a New Light Gallery is located at 7417 North Bass Lake Road in Webster, Wisconsin, and is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm.

 

“Our kids often struggle to engage the world in a positive way, so we have worked hard to develop programming specific to helping them connect meaningfully with people and their community. Part of this effort has been the development of partnerships and other community connections that directly affect the kids we work with. We have many new and exciting projects on the horizon that will ensure we can continue our mission and continue to help each child we work with to realize their life is worth living. We are incredibly grateful for the support of our community, and look forward to being a valuable resource for families in Northwest Wisconsin and beyond for many years to come.” – Mark Elliott, Executive Director

 

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