Contact us Monday through Friday 8:00am CST to 4:30pm CST at 715-327-4402

Celebrating Pride Through Acceptance

June was Pride month, and at Northwest Passage, the kids in Prairieview were given the opportunity to reflect upon Pride in a different light through discussion and artistic expression. Staff member, Leonora, asked the kids to focus not on accepting members of the LGBTQ+ community, but on those who reject it. The kids discussed what acceptance means to them and how they should not try to tell those who disagree what to think but to accept their beliefs and views in the same way they expect their beliefs to be accepted. She encouraged the kids to become advocates for the LGBTQ+ community, to help people that do not agree understand and hopefully reach mutual acceptance. The discussion not only centered around acceptance, but also around what love outside of romance or sexuality means to them and why that is important to understand in talking about acceptance.

As a member and advocate of the community myself, I find it equally important to learn to accept people having difficulty

accepting something as it is to get them to accept.

~ Leonora Otto, Youth Development Specialist

In celebrating Pride month, it is important to recognize the allies of the LGBTQ+ community and not just the supporters. It is important to give the kids the chance to have an open discussion about pride and acceptance, to help them reach acceptance not only for those that may disagree with them but acceptance for themselves.

Artist in Residence: Kat King Making Connections Through Music

Artist in Residence Kat King brings joy and inspiration through music!

For the past four weeks, creativity has been bountiful at Schaefer Cabin thanks to our wonderful Artist in Residence Kat King. Kat has spent the last month living at Schaefer Cabin sharing her talent and passion for music with the kids. Groups from each unit were able to visit Kat at the cabin each week and experience all that music can do to benefit a person’s mental and emotional state. Writing, playing, and listening to music can be a positive outlet for the kids to be able to outwardly portray and understand what it is they may be struggling with internally. Music is a great way for an individual to express themselves and to connect with a group, making it easier to open up and communicate emotions and thoughts.

At Northwest Passage, this year, the Artist in Residence program allowed our residents to explore their imagination, use

creative writing to express themselves, and find purpose in their lives through the vehicle of music. Truly, it’s been amazing 

to behold a glimpse of their stories taking flight. 

~ Molly Thompson, Expressive Arts Instructor

The process of songwriting began with the kids and Kat going on a silent nature hike down to the Namekagon River and through the woods, observing their senses and surroundings. After the hike, the kids were given time to free-write about what they saw, heard, and felt. Once everyone was given the time to reflect, the kids began to share the things in nature they observed. As the kids shared, Kat wrote down all the different expressions and metaphors that the kids used to relate nature back to their experiences. In no time the groups had established a unique, collaboratively written song. The kids then worked with Kat on the melodies, and getting their songs performance ready for the Artist Reception that was held at the end of Kat’s stay.

Many of their writings were incredibly deep and insightful and before I knew it we had a whole marker board full of potential

song lyrics and ideas. It was fun to see one kid share an idea and soon other kids in the room were lighting up and sharing

their own ideas, the room alive with a creative energy that I live for. The cabin allowed me the space and solitude to come up

with melodies to their lyrics and seeing their reactions from watching their songs come to life was incredibly rewarding. 

~ Kat King

Artist in Residence

Watching the process unfold and ideas come together, the introspection and the laughter, and the creativity and insight guided by a gifted artist and team of dedicated counselors was truly a one-of-a-kind experience. Kat helped the kids to not only find the musicians and songwriters within themselves but also to incorporate lyrics with metaphors from nature and their own journeys of mental health. The songs they created helped to show their true selves and they will become part of the way that they define themselves to the world.

~ Ian Karl

Experiential Programming Coordinator


Raging Fire

By  Maple


If I go near the water, my flames might burn out

So I stand here staring with this fear and doubt, fear and doubt

This fast moving current fills me with dread

All these “what if’s” swirling around in my head, in my head


A few drops of water may dampen the flame

But the current can’t stop me, I’ll rise above the pain

I take a deep breath and my dreams rage on

Pushing past the water that’s confined me so long

My mental health may have left a smudge

But watch me trek on through the sludge, through the sludge

Jumping this river may help me say

I made it through another day, another day


Oh – oh – oh- oh- oh- oh- oh (4X)


My hopes and dreams rage on

Because of the fire, the forest lives on

My roots are settled deep and strong

I finally feel like I belong

Wooden Palace

By Willow

Birds call out somewhere above

Welcoming us with their songs of love

Let the river lead you there

It can guide you anywhere

Hearing birds sing as we walk

I would rather listen than talk

I can hope, I can dream

I can laugh, I can sing

Trees stand tall, peace sets in

Schaefer Cabin is a win

Palace full of positivity

It can be your friend if you let it be

Unplugged with an open heart

Absorbing nature brings a new start

Set things free, let them live

Endless vibes nature can give

Enter in, forget your worries

Let it speak, hear the stories

Trees stand tall, peace sets in

Schaefer Cabin is a win

River of Sorrow, River of Hope

By Riverside

The river rushing by, I’m getting passed by

I’m stuck while things keep moving

Sometimes life isn’t for choosing

The process, oh, so slow

Leaves are the first to go

Now a log, but once a tree

This isn’t how it’s supposed to be

I have hit rock bottom, now it’s time to rise

Maybe getting stuck was a blessing in disguise

These layers are holding me together

My temporary home – I won’t be stuck forever

This is just a pause

The things I’ve been through, the things I have seen

The things I have witnessed – I wish my mind was clean

I’ve come to realize I wouldn’t change a thing

Everything I’ve been through

It’s made me who I’m meant to be

Once a river of sorrow

Now the river of hope

Fast or slow

Ready for the torrential flow

Life is Nature

By Oak


I have the eye of sight, but I can’t see

Feels like I’m being walked on like leaves

Would somebody please show respect to me

River is the path driven by the current

Taking away the pain so I won’t feel hurt


Standing tall and firm like a tree

And ask for what I need

I can be as confident as I want to be

River is flowin’ like the breeze that’s blowin’

Always flowing forward, I won’t go back

Looking downstream with uncertainty

Not knowing where it leads

Fill up my soul with the peace it needs

I’m beginning to see this positivity

The path that is within me

The path that is within me for which I need

I believe there’s a magic about the Artist in Residence program that no other program can grasp. I get to see the residents

engage each moment we spend at Schaefer Cabin and watch them grow as a unit and as individuals, which helps

tremendously in their self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-awareness. The program also connects them with nature,

creativity, and the relationships they form while at Northwest Passage. 

~ Molly Thompson

Expressive Arts Instructor


Moving the Body to Move the Mind

Exercise gives the teens a positive way to cope with emotions, experiences, and stress.  Here at Northwest Passage we try to incorporate the Passageways into everything we do. The Razzle Dazzle Groove Squad [RDGS] exemplified this during their performances, showing the benefits of exercise on the mind and positive personal development. Connecting the mind and the body helps us to be in tune with our needs. There are both mental and emotional benefits to exercise: sharper memory and thinking, higher self-esteem, better sleep, more energy, and stronger resilience. Exercise releases tensions in the body; when your body feels better your mind will too.

The Razzle Dazzle Groove Squad is a group that meets on a weekly basis to promote mastery, healthy emotional release, empowerment, confidence, nonjudgmental attitude toward self and others, and self-expression through dance. Dancing is a positive outlet giving the girls 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.

Thanks to your support, Northwest Passage is able to give the teens positive outlets and therapeutic moments like this. The RDGS would like to thank everyone that came to their performance and all the help along the way. This was a memorable experience for many reasons and they thank everyone for their support. They couldn’t do this without you, and hope you enjoyed it as much as the girls did!

“Razzle Dazzle Groove Squad is a place where teens can learn, grow, and obtain mastery. It is a place to deepen the relationship with self, while also being part of a group; a collective group that is brave enough to practice being non-judgmental and expressive. At RDGS, we dance to express not to impress.”–Lisa

“Razzle Dazzle Groove Squad is a safe and truly supportive environment for teenage girls to come together, step outside of their comfort zone, challenge and encourage one another while all expressing their thoughts and emotions in an experiential platform. Seeing the girls glow during and after their performance is an affirmation of the value of what we do for and with them.” –Gina

The Gut-Brain Connection: More Than “We Are What We Eat”

“When we talk about health, we can’t just focus on heart health, or liver health, or brain health, and not whole health. You have to see the whole person and make use of the tools and resources that benefit minds and bodies together.” – Mental Health America

It is this connection between our minds and bodies that we here at Passage know all too well. We know how important it is for our kids and their mental health to have access to healthy foods, exercise, fresh air and beyond. But there is one area that we’re just learning about and we’re lucky to have a medical director who knows all about this topic. So, we enlisted Dr. Ammend to discuss the importance of the connection between our brain and our gut. Feel free to reach out to us if you have questions.

The Gut-Brain Connection: More Than “We Are What We Eat”
By David Ammend, MD

A few short years ago, I would cringe when I heard someone say the words “gut-brain connection.” It screamed fringe science, some off-shoot from immunizations-cause-autism or ADHD-is-only-a-food-allergy. But then I actually started to pay attention to what was being said. And it struck me that what they were saying evoked a line of thinking I had been having for years but had never been able to pull into a coherent whole: There is a connection between the increases we are seeing in brain dysfunction and the fact that our environment has been changing dramatically.

What is the “gut-brain connection?”

In its simplest form, the term refers to the many known ways in which a person’s digestive tract (the “gut” – especially the small and large intestines) and central nervous system (especially the brain) interact. The fact that they DO interact could be dramatically demonstrated by asking me to speak in front of a large crowd: My brain will immediately hate the idea, and in turn, my gut will threaten to rid itself of everything it contains. I will leave it to the reader to come up with his or her own list of colloquialisms involving fear and the clearing of one’s bowels. But suffice it to say, on some level the workings of the gut-brain connection are universally known, if not fully understood.

But who cares? The reason to care is that the attempts to understand the simple version of the gut-brain connection led to a better understanding of the links – neurological, biochemical, and hormonal – that exist between the two systems. And from there we began to see how things like neurocognitive impairment and mental illness can be affected by such things as diet, stress, trauma, and toxic exposures. And from THERE we can see how brain dysfunction can cause gut dysfunction (this is a two-way street) and consequently impact our general health. And from THERE we can…but I am getting ahead of myself.

Pulling the pieces together

The best overview that I have heard on this broad topic was in a presentation called “The Gut, the Brain, and Chemicals” by Andrew Campbell, M.D.* It was presented at an alternative and complementary medicine conference I attended in October 2015, and in part it attempts to explain the increase in some chronic conditions – including mental illnesses and neurodevelopmental disorders – that has been observed in recent years. While it is an oversimplification, I would summarize his line of thinking like this:

  • The Gut has two characteristics that make it a very powerful actor in determining our health:
    • A large surface area (the size of a tennis court) that is exposed to the outside world. Think about the digestive tract as essentially being exposed to our environment via our mouth. The things we eat (about a ton of food per year) bring “outside” substances – some of which are potentially harmful – into our bodies.
    • A large number of neurons – more than exist in the spinal cord. And like the spinal cord, the nerves of the gut have intricate connections to the central nervous system. So, unlike Vegas, what happens in the Gut doesn’t stay in the Gut.
  • The Gut also contains a massive community of microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, and viruses) that are collectively known as the human biome. It is a key mediator in the interaction between the gut and the brain. (Technically, the biome includes organisms that live on our skin and elsewhere in our body, but for this discussion, the part of the biome of most interest is that which is contained in the large intestine.) The organisms that make up our biome feed on nutrients in our gut, help break down molecules in our gut, and (write this down; it will be on the test!) produce neurotransmitters and hormones that can impact our own neurological and metabolic functioning. The fact that our gut microbiome contains approximately 4 times as many cells as we have human cells means that the potential for our microbiome to influence our health is great.
  • Both the composition and function of the microbiome are affected by changes in our environment. Dr. Campbell emphasizes that the way that human beings think, feel, and function has evolved over millennia. But the environmental conditions in which we currently live have changed rapidly and significantly from those that determined our evolution. A few examples of changes in those environmental conditions include processing of food; the radical explosion of the number of chemicals that we are exposed to (very few of which have been studied for safety); and our inundation by nanoparticles that can trigger both digestive system and central nervous system inflammation.

The uber-oversimplified recap is this: Changes in our environment (food, chemicals) and new forms of stresses can change the composition of the microbiome, leading to changes in the neurotransmitters produced in the gut. The changes in neurotransmitters can effect changes in mood, behavior and neurological functioning. All of this is further complicated by the inflammatory changes that may be going on in our intestines and/or brains as a result of exposure to toxic substances, and the end result is manifested as disruptions of our physical and mental health. (I will resist the temptation at this point of launching into a discussion on the false separation of mental and physical health.)

Hard stuff.

I once had a professor that, when approaching a particularly difficult to understand topic, would lean in and say “This is hard stuff.” Well, this is hard stuff indeed. Much is yet to be learned about the interweaving of gut and brain health. We still do not understand exactly how particular substances or stressors impact brain functioning. There are many potential mediators that might determine whether exposure to a particular substance ends up causing health problems: the strength of the exposure (“dose”); the time in one’s life one is exposed; one’s genetic susceptibility to suffering harm from the particular substance; simultaneous exposure to other substances; the presence or absence of protective factors; and the relative state of health of one’s microbiome, to name but a few. Change just one of those factors, and you may very well change whether the substance has no real impact on health or causes devastating health problems.

Until we work through all of the complexities of the system summarized above, it remains difficult to say with certainty which substances or stressors must be considered toxic from those that are safe. That is, which substances or stressors impair our gut and brain functioning vs. those that do not. But as these details become clearer, there is hope that we can develop more effective ways of treating mental illness and cognitive dysfunction – or avoiding those problems altogether.

There is a lot of work left to be done. But what we know so far suggests that our changing environment and rapidly evolving lifestyles may be causing harm to us in ways that we have only recently begun to understand.

Plenty of food for thought there. Hard stuff.

*For an interview with Dr. Campbell on this topic, see

Passage Makes it into the Pages of Enduring Gift

We here at Northwest Passage know the importance and value of nature. We take advantage of the pristine wildness of the St. Croix River and its tributaries regularly with our residents through our nature photography programming, In a New Light (and Under the Surface). It is with this appreciation that we are excited to celebrate a recent publication–famed nature photographer, Craig Blacklock’s– “St. Croix & Namekagon Rivers: The Enduring Gift.” We have long admired Craig’s work and are thrilled he chose to capture the spirit of the St. Croix; the National Park in our own backyard.

Of course, it is no coincidence that Craig’s book was published in 2018, the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. It was through a partnership with the St. Croix River Association that this work of art came to be in recognition of this impactful legislation that protects the gorgeous river we all know and love. The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968 was co-sponsored by Sens. Gaylord Nelson and Walter F. Mondale and sought to protect a handful of riverways from the harmful impact of humanity by giving them a special designation and with that, protections. Both the St. Croix and Namekagon are two of the original eight rivers protected and are evidence of the program’s success.

The gift this legislation has been to our region is incalculable. It is truly a unique experience to be on a Wild and Scenic River. The undisturbed water’s edge is as though civilization is miles, if not decades away. We’re lucky to have over 252 miles of this wild terrain, and we’re lucky to have a book that captures this treasure so beautifully.

We make our appearance on page 79 opposite of a gorgeous shot of St. Croix State Park – be sure to check it out.

There is photo exhibition at the Mill City Museum, in Minneapolis. Located in the museum’s central Mill Commons from April 12 through June 24, 2018. We recommend you make time to see these photos up-close and in person at the exhibit, or order your book now by visiting

The river is full of energy,

full of life in a constant flow.

I feel like my life is just like the river

I have all this energy, and my life is now just beginning for the first time.

Derek, 17

Former Lakeshore Resident

The glassy world of today

Will never shine quite that way.

Tomorrow comes and goes

Just like the river flows.

We are pebbles beneath the glass,

We are redder than the mountain pass.

Our real selves just below air.

Trying to live without a care

We’re stuck in the water, oh so deep

We can’t go anywhere, cannot leap.

We are deep and meaningful.

You know it’s true.

We are the rocks of every hue.

Aarin, 15

Former Lakeshore Resident

There are so many beautiful aspects of life that we never see and we never know about, unless we look. Sometimes we have to look in the places that are dark, scary, and unfamiliar to find the greatest beauty of all. I was really surprised to find out that there were sponges in freshwater ecosystems, and now I’ve had an opportunity to capture their beauty to share with the world.

Jonathan, 17

Former Lakeshore Resident


Into the water I went

Washing away the pain the scares left

I watched the memories float down the stream

Away from my thoughts, away from me

Submerged in the peaceful current

I left myself go for just a moment

As I rose up out of the water

The sun seemed to shine brighter

I knew I was going to be okay

Jade, 16

Former Prairieview Resident

We’re Looking for YOU!

Pediatric Neuropsychologist

We provide a unique 30-day mental health evaluation and aftercare strategy program for male and female children ages 6 to 17. The patient population reflects a wide range of neurodevelopmental disorders in the context of primary psychosocial concerns often involving substantial adverse childhood experience.  The associated learning, behavioral, and psychological complications are a significant component of daily evaluation and consultation.

The predominant position responsibilities include conducting neuropsychological evaluations and preparing neuropsychological reports.  There is often daily consultation within our team that includes neuropsychologists, a psychometrician, a pediatrician, a psychiatric nurse practitioner, case managers, therapists, special education staff, patients, and patient families. In addition to this multidisciplinary communication and collaboration, a weekly meeting of all teams involves in-depth case discussion of each resident/patient. Research opportunities are emerging and can be matched to applicant interest.

This pleasant, casual work setting is located in Northwestern Wisconsin in close proximity to state and national forests, the shores of Lake Superior, and the Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway.  Outdoor recreation is available for all seasons. Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area is nearby as well. Numerous cultural and recreational opportunities offer a high quality of life.

The position offers a competitive benefits package including signing bonus, relocation, liability insurance, life insurance, healthcare, PTO, funding for professional development and continuing education, potential student loan reimbursement, and 401k retirement contribution.


  • Completes all required documentation in an accurate and timely manner
  • Understands and follows agency policies
  • Licensed to practice in the state of Wisconsin and qualify for reimbursement by Wisconsin MA and third party or should be eligible for Wisconsin licensure.
  • Doctoral degree from an APA-accredited program in clinical psychology
  • Completion of an internship with experience in pediatric neuropsychology
  • Completion of a fellowship with experience in pediatric neuropsychology
  • Signing Bonus
  • Relocation
  • Liability Insurance
  • Life Insurance
  • Healthcare
  • Paid time off and paid holidays
  • Funding for professional development and continuing education
  • Possible student loan reimbursement
  • 401k retirement contribution

Seizing the Light


The light dances off the surface of the crystalline surface.

Light penetrates the recesses of the hollow spots.

The hidden bright spots can be found in surprising spots if the light is right.

This is Seizing the Light.

We hosted an artist reception to celebrate the opening of Seizing the Light, a new exhibit featuring the work of our Prairieview kids. Molly, their artistic director, who infuses art therapy into her work with the kids, “This show captured the beauty of the way the light dances on the blank canvases of snow, the warm neutral tones of the winter brush, and the sparkle of the ice crystals.”

You can see the full show at the In a New Light Gallery located at 7417 N Bass Lake Road in Webster, Wisconsin. Our gallery is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., stop by anytime!

Excerpts from the latest show:

“Thoughts” by Candus, 15

“Cold and frozen, brittle and broken, lost yet found, beautiful they say but self-conscious deep down inside, hidden but right in the center, hurt but smiling because I’m still trying …”

“What’s on the Inside” by Malia, 16

“No one in this world will ever be able to figure out what one person is like unless they put in the time and effort to get to know them. People are absolutely incredible and completely one-of-a-kind.”

“Angel” by Sidney, 16

“Haze” by Beaux, 13

“If you want to know who you are, you have to look at your real self and acknowledge what you see”-Itachi Uchiha

“Neglect” by Anonymous, 15

“Neglect. Broken, hurt. Crying, suffering, damaging. Dad, beer, contact, love. Laughing, hugging, smiling. Fulfilled, joy. Attention.”

“Fear Has No Power Over You” by Jazzlyn, 16

“Fear is an emotion, it can’t hurt you, touch you, or hold power over you. You’re in control of your emotion, especially your fears.”

Winter Games Come to Passage!

The spirit of the Olympics spread throughout the building as a part of a staff-initiated effort!

Walking through the halls of Prairieview and Assessment the last few weekends you’d have heard a lot more laughter and bustle coming from the units. Kids and staff alike were all in on the Olympic games this year thanks to some above and beyond effort from the weekend direct care providers. “The Olympics are a special time where the whole world stops and comes to gather to celebrate what humanity can accomplish despite our differences. We wanted to make sure the kids had an opportunity to learn about different cultures represented at the games, celebrate diversity and unity, and most importantly just have fun!” Amanda Leckel, weekend staffer explains. Adam Parker, added, “We included activities for all levels, the arts, education, and even ethnic foods in the planning.” Adam, “And of course, a little healthy completion.”

Five units competed in a variety of contests like those listed below and earned points across three weekends. And it was a hit! Adam says of the Passage Winter Games, “I loved seeing the kids cheer one another on during the competition. It made everything we did to make these events happen worth it. We know how important relationships are to these kids and any chance we have to bring them together to work toward a common cause is a chance worth taking.” Amanda says, All of the kiddos put in a lot of effort and it was a blast watching them try new things and learn about their assigned countries.”

  • Ethnic snacks
  • Snow structure building
  • Skating
  • Unity Poetry contest
  • Artist poster chronicling the experience
  • Unit decorating
  • Flag creation and design competition
  • Obstacle course
  • Medicine ball throw
  • Sledding relay
  • Photo Booth
  • Snowshoeing


Doing these events helped me realize that I really can contribute something valuable to a cause bigger than myself.

Prairieview Resident



Program coordinator, Amanda Lundquist said of the events, “As a program coordinator, I’m grateful for the staff who show great creativity and initiative to bring opportunities like these to our kiddos. Amanda and Adam stepped up and made all of this possible through hard work, planning, and collaboration. I was thrilled to see what fun the kids had.”

We’re looking for YOU!

Become a Master Naturalist Volunteer for Northwest Passage today!

We are offering a unique volunteer opportunity at our Prairieview campus for

Wisconsin Master Naturalist Volunteer Training Course this spring. The course will focus on nature as a therapeutic tool for youth and will be an asset for the community. The subject areas included in the Master Naturalist training include geology, ecology, plant communities, wildlife, interpretation, water, and human impacts. The course will provide participants with a foundation in these subject areas. Unique to Northwest Passage’s course, lessons and workshops will include best practices and methods for working with youth with mental health and behavioral challenges.

A Master Naturalist instruction manual will be provided and used as a guiding resource for the course. Guest speakers will include regional scientists, professors, and natural history experts as well as members of Northwest Passage’s Clinical Team and Educational Staff. This specific course will appeal to enthusiastic educators with a passion not only for the nature of Wisconsin, but also with a desire to engage marginalized youth in the outdoors.

Project lead, Ian Karl says that “this is a great opportunity for anyone looking to improve their knowledge of our regional landscape and ecology or work with youth in their communities.” He goes on to say he hopes to see a wide array of community members – “we welcome anyone from educators and professionals in the field of mental health to anyone with a passion for connecting people with Wisconsin’s rich landscape”

When asked why Northwest Passage, a non-profit residential mental health program for youth, would invest in an opportunity like this in the community he smiled. “We know, and research supports, that spending time in nature is a key part of maintaining mental health. We want to help equip as many people as possible with the tools they need to be the connection for others to the woods, wildlife, and water in our little corner of the world. If one kid finds a mentor in a Master Naturalist Volunteer, then it’s worth it.”

The Wisconsin Master Naturalist Program is a network of well-informed citizens dedicated to conservation education and service within Wisconsin communities. The Master Naturalist Volunteer Training Course provides 40 hours of coursework in natural history, interpretation, and conservation stewardship. Courses combine classroom instruction with field experiences and are taught by professional natural resources educators and scientists.

Once trained, Wisconsin Master Naturalist Volunteers provide 40 hours of service, preferably with Northwest Passage at its prairie restoration site, and take 8 hours of advanced training each year to maintain their certification and receive a recognition pin. The course fee is $250 and includes all class materials and a one-year membership with the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. Scholarships are available on a needs basis. If you’re interested in learning more about the scholarship, you can reach out to our development director, Chanda Elliott to apply. The courses will be held at Northwest Passage’s In a New Light Gallery and through a series of field trips. The gallery is located at: 7417 N Bass Lake Rd, Webster, WI 54893. The course will run every other weekend beginning on April 7, 2018 and will end on May 20, 2018.

Saturday, April 7: 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 8: 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 21: 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (Field Trip)
Saturday, May 5: 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (Field Trip)
Saturday, May 19: 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 20: 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

For more information about Northwest Passage call 715-327-4402 or visit us at


Prairieview-2016-Prairie-Study-03.jpg (attached) – Ian takes students out to the prairie to investigate their surroundings.
WMN_logo_color_med.png – Become a volunteer at Northwest Passage to help us with our prairie restoration stewardship project.


Since 1978, Northwest Passage’s mission has been to restore hope through innovative health services for children and families.

What is Self-Harm?

Scared. Disgusted. Confused. Worried. Frustrated. These are some of the words that I have heard from those caring for and about those who live with non-suicidal self-injurious behaviors, commonly known as self-harm. Oftentimes these caregivers will confuse self-harm with a suicide attempt; believing that their loved one was intending to die. They become emotionally exhausted from attending to the frequent feelings of urgency to address injuries and the emotional dysregulation surrounding the behavior.

The truth is, self-harm is only sometimes associated with suicidal ideation. Of course, knowing this does not make self-harm feel any less scary or baffling to caregivers.  It can be challenging to assess where this behavior is coming from and what purpose it is serving in an individual’s life. To better understand this pattern of behavior we often look at self-harm, not as the problem, but instead, as the solution to a problem. Looking at self-harm in this way can provide the opportunity to explore what other factors have motivated this concerning behavior. Additionally, looking for these motivators can help bring understanding to a pattern that can be difficult to understand.

Self-harm can serve many purposes for those who engage in it. For some, it can be a way to make their incomprehensible emotional pain make sense. They can make the abstract world of emotions, concrete through a physical wound. This often is the case for those who struggle with verbal communication or getting their ideas across effectively. For others, self-harm is a way to express their need for assistance from the outside world. And for still others, self-harm is actually a tool to prevent them from engaging in suicidal behaviors.

In many ways, self-harm behaviors can be seen as closely related to addictive behaviors. When an individual uses drugs and alcohol to soothe difficult emotions or to help express themselves, their other coping/communication skills become underused and a bit rusty. The same process happens with self-harm. When this behavior is solely relied upon in times of distress, other options that may be more sustainable and less problematic no longer get used.

When working to leave behind self-harm behaviors its important to learn about skills such as urge surfing which is based on the idea that no emotion last forever – rather, emotions come and go in waves. These emotional waves can be surfed with the use of a range of skills and so, too, can the urge to engage in self-harm. Of course, building a life worth living through therapeutic lifestyle choices and engaging in problem-solving for the issues that drive self-harm behaviors are also keys on the road to recovery!

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