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It Takes a Village to Build a Hammock Village

The unofficial start of summer is behind us and now, more than ever, the kids residing at Northwest Passage are ready to get outside! While the world beyond our campuses is unpredictable and ever-changing the need for a sense of safety and healthy ways to tolerate distress persist in the children receiving mental health treatment at Northwest Passage. Unfettered access to the outdoors has proven to be our greatest asset during the coronavirus pandemic. With our young residents facing continued isolation from their families and the inability to stray too far from campus, the staff at Northwest Passage needed to create more outdoor spaces and activities on campus to keep the youth occupied and engaged.

Enter the Hammock Village! A hammock village consists of 10 colorful hammocks hanging between a group of poles set in a circular pattern. Sails attached to the top of the poles offer protection from the hot summer sun. The Hammock Village offers kids and staff a place to congregate, at a safe distance, to enjoy nature as they participate in group therapy sessions, read or study for school, or just relax and reflect.

With initial plans in place to construct a Hammock Village on our Prairieview campus in Frederic, a call went out for donations to make the project a reality. Donors responded in force, with over 73 individuals making donations towards the project. The tremendous response not only allowed for completion of a Hammock Village on the Prairieview campus but enabled construction to begin on a second Hammock Village to be located on our Riverside campus in Webster.

Thanks to Northwest Passage’s “village” of supporters, young people receiving mental health treatment at Northwest Passage this summer will have an exciting new place to connect and grow on their path to hope and healing.

Northwest Passage encourages residents to build a healthy lifestyle in accordance with the PassageWay, which includes eight therapeutic lifestyle choices: Nature | Recreation | Relaxation | Nutrition | Exercise | Relationships | Service | Spirit. Our Hammock Village offers kids an opportunity for recreation and relaxation in nature and promotes building healthy relationships with others.

The Birkie Experience

RESIDENTS PREPARE TO VOLUNTEER AT HISTORIC EVENT

As the American Birkebeiner speeds towards the 46th annual Nordic ski race residents from Riverside gathered together on one chilly morning and Prairieview on another, to test out their cross-country skiing skills on the world-famous race course reaching from Cable to Hayward in Northern Wisconsin.

An outdoor adventure like this is a great way to apply elements of the Passageway, such as nature, recreation, and exercise in to the residents daily lives. This was also an excellent learning opportunity for the residents to see how the Birkebeiner’s mission statement is very similar to the therapeutic lifestyle that they learn at Northwest Passage. The Birkebeiner aligns with the Passageway in the commitment to maintain active and healthy habits in the lives of their participants. The Birkebeiner motto of ski, run, bike, live! promotes not just a race, but a year-round lifestyle.

This day trip to the Birkie trail built on lessons and training that the group had learned on the Riverside Campus over the previous weeks. It was an opportunity for them to put in to practice the skills they had learned in a new and more challenging environment. Skiing the trail gave residents the opportunity to see how they could use this element of healing long after their time at Northwest Passage.

It was also an orientation for Riverside, to the site where they will volunteer with other members of the community on the day of the race to photograph and provide “feeds” for the thousands of skiers that will stream through the Strand-Johnson aid station in just a little over a week.

Residents from Prairieview got the opportunity to ski around the Hatchery Creek aid station, a stop located in the final stretch of the race. The residents also had the invaluable opportunity to go to the Birkebeiner office and visitor center to meet with Laurie Landgraf, a long-time skier of the Birkie. Landgraf helped the residents paint a picture of the history and the excitement of the long-awaited race day. Residents explored the visitor center and marveled at ski equipment from the past and fun facts about the race.

Skiing through the trail, the whoops and hollers of excitement bounced around the trees as the kids glided through the snow. They were willing to reach and stretch to learn new skiing techniques, even some tumbles in the snow were met with smiles. Towards the end of the day, the pride on the kids’ faces was clear. Both groups of residents received an invaluable opportunity to ski on the same path that elite athletes and Olympians have for 45 years. This was an outing that they will not soon forget.

HELP SUPPORT MORE OUTINGS LIKE THIS!

Northwest Passage encourages residents to build a healthy lifestyle in accordance with the PassageWay, which includes eight therapeutic lifestyle choices: Nature | Recreation | Relaxation | Nutrition | Exercise | Relationships | Service | Spirit. Participation in the Birkebeiner Ski Race offers kids a healthy form of recreation and exercise, and promotes service to others through volunteerism.

   

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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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Prairieview and Assessment Students Celebrate Outdoor Classroom Day

INTERNATIONAL MOVEMENT ENCOURAGES KIDS TO “THINK OUTSIDE”!

Northwest Passage hosted their second Outdoor Classroom Day event on November 1st as part of an international movement to get kids outdoors. The teachers and kids at Prairieview and Assessment in Frederic spent all morning enjoying the brisk and sunny fall weather while participating in outdoor activities that encouraged them to “think outside.” Activities included a prairie hunt challenge, relay races, STEM challenge with apples, handmade bird feeders, chalk art, nature photography, archery, and outdoor yard games run by the awesome Northwest Passage staff!

Our education team works to incorporate outdoor and experiential education opportunities to all students across all subject areas on a daily basis. These special days are important for the students and staff as they break up the regular school day routine and provide a positive outlet for everyone’s energy. They are also a lot of fun! These types of activities provide a unique opportunity for staff to work with students other than those in their regular classes and for staff to collaborate with one another to organize the event.

Outdoor Classroom Day is a global campaign to celebrate and inspire outdoor learning and play. “Outdoor learning improves children’s healthengages them with learning and leads to a greater connection with nature. Play not only teaches critical life skills such as resilienceteamwork, and creativity but is central to children’s enjoyment of childhood.”

Outdoor Classroom Day has a goal of helping people understand that spending time outdoors is as important for children’s development as learning to read and write. This belief coincides with Northwest Passages’ focus on blending traditional mental health treatment with arts and nature-based therapy to restore hope in the children and families we serve.

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

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

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

     

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

     

                       

Beauty

By: Dylan P

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

Spreading Your Wings

Taking off is the hardest part

It comes from deep within the heart

But if you don’t you won’t survive

Flying will help you thrive

So spread your wings and jump,

Because if you do

You will

FLY!

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 stcroixphotography.com.

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

Revived

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

Seizing the Light

PRAIRIEVIEW ARTISTS PRESENT: 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.”

Grand Opening!

NORTHWEST PASSAGE GROWS CAPACITY FOR HOPE IN WISCONSIN

Northwest Passage is celebrating its increased capacity for serving children and families at its Frederic location this week with an Open House. The Prairieview and Assessment programs have gained a new Wellness Center, complete with a gym and both an outdoor and indoor classroom, and Prairieview added a new unit. The event will be held Thursday, August 24 from 3:30 – 5:30 pm at the new Wellness Center at 201 United Way in Frederic.

Situated at the south edge of town, Northwest Passage operates two mental health residential treatment programs serving youth struggling with mental illness ages 6-17. Ellen Race says of the programs, “treatment deals with everything from their physical and mental health, academics, and fun. Adding a facility like the Wellness Center provides greater quality of care, rain or shine.” As a part of the Wellness Center expansion, Northwest Passage has committed to providing an immersive, environmentally themed, project-based educational curriculum.

The students will work with a number of pollinator friendly projects throughout the year. They will work to assist Northwest Passage in the restoration of a portion of its land to native prairie grasses through multiple projects such as the St. Croix Master Watershed Stewards rain garden initiative and the National Park Service’s Pollinator Pledge. They will work directly with pollinators through service at Horst M. Rechelbacher Foundation’s pollinator lab, by tending to their own beehive. They will also grow pollinator dependent fruits and vegetables in their own gardens thanks to St. Croix Valley Foundations support and make pollinator friendly art projects – all of which will be on display at Thursday’s open house.

Tours will also be given of the newest unit at Prairieview. “We’re excited to be showing off our new unit in our Prairieview program,” says executive director Mark Elliott.  “There is a dramatic shortage of residential mental health services in the state and all over the country. This expansion does a small part in reaching that need. It allows us to pursue our mission with even more kids.”

Northwest Passage would like to thank the St. Croix Valley Foundation as a number of these projects received funding from the SCVF and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin.

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New Wellness Center

Northwest Passage is celebrating its increased capacity for serving children and families at its Frederic location this week with an Open House. The Prairieview and Assessment programs have gained a new Wellness Center, complete with a gym and both an outdoor and indoor classroom, and Prairieview added a new unit. The event will be held Thursday, August 24 from 3:30 – 5:30 pm at the new Wellness Center at 201 United Way in Frederic.

Situated at the south edge of town, Northwest Passage operates two mental health residential treatment programs serving youth struggling with mental illness ages 6-17. Ellen Race says of the programs, “treatment deals with everything from their physical and mental health, academics, and fun. Adding a facility like the Wellness Center provides greater quality of care, rain or shine.” As a part of the Wellness Center expansion, Northwest Passage has committed to providing an immersive, environmentally themed, project-based educational curriculum.

The students will work with a number of pollinator friendly projects throughout the year. They will work to assist Northwest Passage in the restoration of a portion of its land to native prairie grasses through multiple projects such as the St. Croix Master Watershed Stewards rain garden initiative and the National Park Service’s Pollinator Pledge. They will work directly with pollinators through service at Horst M. Rechelbacher Foundation’s pollinator lab, by tending to their own beehive. They will also grow pollinator dependent fruits and vegetables in their own gardens thanks to St. Croix Valley Foundations support and make pollinator friendly art projects – all of which will be on display at Thursday’s open house.

Tours will also be given of the newest unit at Prairieview. “We’re excited to be showing off our new unit in our Prairieview program,” says executive director Mark Elliott. “There is a dramatic shortage of residential mental health services in the state and all over the county. This expansion does a small part in reaching that need. It allows us to pursue our mission with even more kids.”

Northwest Passage would like to thank the St. Croix Valley Foundation as a number of these projects received funding from the SCVF and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin.

For more details about the event, please visit our events page at nwpltd.org/events. To RSVP please call us at 715-327-4402 or visit our Facebook page.

Resources: Photos courtesy of Dillon Vibes

 

In a New Light Gallery to host student film premier from Panama expedition

Northwest Passage Expeditions, Northwest Passage’s newest therapeutic program for students ages 18-24, has spent the past month on a filmmaking expedition in Panama.  Mentored by Sachi Cunningham, a renowned San Fransisco-based documentary filmmaker and photographer, the students created a series of short documentary films about “Blue Mind,” the emotional and psychological benefits of being in or near water.   The students will show will their films and talk about their experiences at the In a New Light Gallery in Webster on Wednesday, August 16 from 3:30–5:30 pm.  The event is free and open to the public.

 

“The students have accomplished something extraordinary” said Ben Thwaits, coordinator of the program.  “Not only have they mastered advanced skills as documentary filmmakers in less than a month, but they’ve also integrated themselves within new community and a new culture to find some truly fascinating people and stories.  Their films are powerful and moving, and they’re expressing new and important ideas. The experience is transformative on so many levels.”

 

After a 10-day orientation in Wisconsin, the students spent nearly a month based on Panama’s Azuero Peninsula, where they explored the region to spend time with people’s whose lives are centered on the water, from local fisherman to champion surfing celebrities.  With each, they explored the nature of their connection to the water. While the expedition focused on filmmaking, the students’ therapeutic experience was the primary objective.  “Adventure is inherently therapeutic” says Thwaits.  “Sometimes you have to remove yourself from the life you know in order to more clearly see the life that is waiting for you.”

 

The expedition to Panama was funded in part by the generous contribution of Darby and Geri Nelson.

 

About Northwest Passage

With locations in the northwestern Wisconsin communities of Frederic and Webster, Northwest Passage offers comprehensive residential mental health services to young people, with the aim of restoring dignity, emotional wholeness, and a sense of self worth.  Northwest Passage Expeditions is a new adventure-based program that partners world-class explorers, artists, and scientists with mental health professionals to lead therapeutic expeditions around the world for 18-24-year-olds.  www.northwestpassageexpeditions.org

 

About Sachi Cunningham, Panama filmmaking teacher

 

As a documentary filmmaker, Cunningham’s 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.

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