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

Residents “in the field” with Andrew Walsh

KIDS HAVE PROFESSIONAL PHOTOS TAKEN

Residents from Prairieview, Lakeshore, and Riverside joined professional photographer and Webster native, Andrew Walsh, yesterday for an ‘in the field’ portrait shoot in Crex Meadows. Andrew has traveled to us from Portland, OR for the second time in 12 months to volunteer a week of his time and talent for our kids.

The wetlands of Crex were alive with the calls of trumpeter swans, red winged black birds, and song birds. The weather cooperated perfectly for this unique opportunity for Northwest Passage photographers to be on the other side of the camera and see first-hand what the life of a professional photographer is like.

From resident, CJ, on having his photo taken by a professional photographer:

“I don’t know how to describe it, it’s kind of like the greatest thing ever…”

If you’re in the area please join us for an artist reception at our gallery on Friday, May 20, from 4 – 6 p.m. Portraits of the kids, taken by Andrew last year, and some of his nature photography, will be showcased, next to the artwork of our kids. Come and check our talented youth’s photographs, pottery, sketches, and more. Also meet Andrew and our artists!

SHARE

Cait Irwin is Artist in Residence for entire month of June

CAIT WILL INSPIRE MANY KIDS DURING HER STAY

Through a collaboration between Northwest Passage and The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway Artist Cait Irwin will be spending the month of June on the banks of the Namekagon River as an Artist in Residence. Cait is a woman of many passions. She is an artist, entrepreneur, activist, environmentalist, author and visionary. Through the medium of mural painting, her expressed goal is to create “spaces that inspire”. She is also a published author of two books chronicling her fight with depression. Cait will be spending the month residing at the National Park Service’s Schaefer Cabin overlooking the Namekagon River. The Cabin, built in 1927 was recently restored through a cooperative initiative between Northwest Passage and the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway.

Cait will be travelling to Northwest Wisconsin from her home state of Iowa. However, as a graduate of Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, this will be a homecoming of sorts for her. While in residency, Cait will lead art workshops with residents of Northwest Passage and host events with the public. She will shape the kids’ work into four finished paintings reflecting the nature and wildness of the Namekagon and St. Croix Rivers. Under Cait’s mentorship Schaefer Cabin will surely become a “place that inspires” many.

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

The following is written by a resident of Northwest Passage Prairieview after an interview with Cait.

“Cait Irwin is a professional mural artist who I got a chance to speak with and find out what inspires her. She also does Graphic Design, Fine Art, and Sculpture Cake Art. A mural artist is someone who paints art on building walls or in large displays. Cait is a very unique and inspiring woman. Ever since she was a child, she always knew it was her calling to be an artist. Cait says, “Art is the one thing I never doubted, I was always sure of it.” Cait wanted to do mural art because she loves to paint large spaces. She finds it challenging and loves how it makes her work hard. “Bigger is better”, and in this case bigger certainly is better for Cait.

In June, Cait will be coming to Northwest Passage to share her love of art. She had expressed to me how excited she was to meet us and was thrilled to be getting the opportunity to experience art with kids working on their mental health. When Cait was going through her teen years, she turned to art because it helped her cope with her depression.

At the age of 14, Cait started writing a book, Conquering the Beast Within, about her struggles with depression. The book was originally her journal and she needed a way to communicate in those dark times. Cait describes her journey in writing the book as “Emotional and very raw.” Her hopes in writing Conquering the Beast Within, is to reach out to teens struggling with depression and other mental health issues. Her book includes many paintings she did while she was struggling with depression. Many would think writing a book about personal experiences would make you feel vulnerable. But Cait got to a point where she was comfortable talking about depression. “It’s a sacrifice putting yourself out there. But if it means hearing someone say ‘I’m not alone’ and helping them, it’s worth the sacrifice.” In talking with Cait, I thought this was one of most inspiring things she said.

Cait has a big interest in animals and nature. One of her paintings, Grandmother Elephant, she painted because she wanted to show the idea of our life cycle. If you look at the photo you will see how the elephant is holding the egg. The egg signifies our birth, the roots represent how we grow. The elephant is our memory; the skull is merging into old age and the moon is death. I thought this was a very interesting and fascinating portrait.

I am excited to meet Cait. She is a very passionate and strong woman and I think she will inspire every person here, whether they are staff or a resident, in one way or another. Cait has already inspired me to use art to help me cope with my problems and to not be afraid to talk about them.”

Northwest Passage cares about the artistic growth of our kids. We invite artists to come in, as an artist in residence, to guide them on journeys of self-expression through the language of art.

SHARE

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.

SHARE

Caring for Flour Babies at Riverside

CARING FOR BAGS OF FLOUR CREATES DEEPER MEANING FOR YOUNG MEN AT RIVERSIDE

Meet the “Flour Babies” at Riverside and their proud “parents.”

Northwest Passage’s Riverside boys took on a new experience as they cared for ‘flour babies’ for two days. In health class, the boys had been talking about reproductive systems, pregnancy and childcare. Many classroom discussions were held, power point presentations presented, videos watched, group activities completed, internet research conducted and the final project concluded with each resident caring for their own flour baby.

The boys helped create and dressed their own flour baby, named their flour baby and decided where the baby would sit and sleep for the next two days. The boys had to take their flour baby with him to all areas of programming; school, creative arts, recreation, groups, therapy, etc. While they were in programming, a designated location was decided for daycare.

When this experience was done staff reflected with the boys about the past two days. Many boys enjoyed caring for something else other than themselves and they felt like they were needed by someone. A resident mentioned, “I woke up in the morning and I would check on my baby right away”. The boys learned a lot about themselves through this project, like how caring and compassionate they are but also that many of them are not ready for the responsibility of a baby.

CONSIDER SUPPORTING OUR EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING

Northwest Passage is dedicated to the experiential education of our kids. Through activities like this, kids are able to bring topics from the classroom to whole new level. Thanks to the dedication of our teachers and staff and support from donors like you, we’re able to offer exceptional opportunities like this that truly teach our kids to enjoy school again.

SHARE

Together against bullying

UNITED FOR KINDNESS, ACCEPTANCE AND INCLUSION

#unityday2015

160,000 students skip school each day because of bullying and 3.2 million students are bullied each year. Students who experience bullying are at increased risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, and poor school adjustment (pacer.org).

At Northwest Passage, we work hard to teach our residents compassion and kindness. Through daily programming, weekly groups and special events, the girls at Prairieview are given many opportunities to learn and practice positive social behaviors that foster empathy and tolerance.

For example, the girls participate in a weekly character development group that covers a variety of traits including: compassion, empathy, respect, tolerance, attitude, preparation, honesty, integrity, self-control, and responsibility. The group allows for a safe space for discussion and personal growth through discussion, activities and weekly homework. The girls also have weekly unit goals that target their interpersonal skills while in treatment, focusing on effective communication and respect for others.

On October 21, 2015, Unity Day was celebrated nationwide and Prairieview participated in full force. The girls participated in a variety of activities including t-shirt decorating and team chalk murals. All staff members were involved as well, with every person in the building wearing orange t-shirts that they personally decorated. The chalk mural project challenged the girls to make a final product that showcased their individual talents as well as their ability to problem solve and work together. 16 residents were split up in to teams and given blank chalkboard canvases and a picture that they had to re-create. The process was amazing to watch and unfolded beautifully. Initially, the teams struggled to communicate and respect each other’s comfort levels with the task. Many groups had to start over while others had to make adjustments throughout the process to keep their artwork consistent. The girls spent several hours working on their pieces and strived for perfection. The murals exceeded all expectations and allowed for very productive, creative and fun team building project. The girls beamed with pride, showing off big smiles as staff expressed their excitement over the finished products. The murals are now hung around the building, reminding all staff and residents on a daily basis that when all differences are set aside, you can work together and be successful!

Your donations make projects like this possible. You are with us when we are teaching these teens to respect each other and show compassion and kindness to everyone they meet. You make it happen. Anything you give makes a difference. Thank you for your support.

Northwest Passage is dedicated to the social care of our kids. This is done through events like Unity Day, where they are taught not to bully their peers, but instead to show respect for all people.

SHARE

Riverside paints St. Olaf College

Our talented intern, Jae Mawby, just wrapped up the development of Riverside’s pottery programming. As a special opportunity for the young men she worked with in this endeavor, she arrange for four of her students to visit her college, St. Olaf.
(more…)

A letter to my boys (thoughts from a therapist)

Dear Boys,

Hey you, yeah you, I’m talking to you.  It’s okay if you roll your eyes, sigh and cast your head down, I know you’re listening.  I have got a few things I’d like to tell you…

Yes, you are tough.  You are tough not because of your battle scars, your stoic emotional expression or the beginnings of your man beard.  YOU ARE TOUGH because no matter how many unfortunate and unfair situations come your way, you keep moving forward and somehow in that moving forward you allow a little light of hope into your world.  And no matter how terrifying that little light of hope may be, you allow it to grow, little by little and day by day until it becomes a small flame inside your soul.

I see you.  I see who you are as a person, as a soul.  Not your diagnosis, your behavioral history, your daily charting or even “your potential.”  I see you now, in this moment.  I see that you have developed strengths and uniqueness that no one else in this universe possesses.  I see that the way you have developed has been in response to all sorts of adversity in a society that does not fully understand your needs.  This way of developing has been in an attempt to survive, not in a manner to be hostile, manipulative or scary.

You are not bad.  You are not “born bad.”  You are not born broken.  You are as whole and pure as me or any other human being.  It’s just that your life experience hasn’t let you see or feel that.  You carry a shame that is not yours to carry and I thank you for the moments you take that shame out of your heavy backpack and place it on the floor in front of us.

You make me laugh.  You bring a joy into my heart that cannot be explained or experienced in any other way.  You remind me to play and be silly, in a way that allows my stress to flow away from me and invites a sense of fun and curiosity that only you can bring.

You teach me.  Yes, I learn from you.  I learn how to trust.  I learn from you how to be vulnerable.  I learn from you how to believe in change, even when believing in that change shakes you to your core.

You always have a choice, young man.  Yes, I am likely lecturing this to you each day, but only because it’s true.  You have a personal power so great, it can change your world and the world around you.

You.  Are.  Loved.

Hillary Giller, MA, Mental Health Therapist

Prairieview resident organizes activities to raise awareness of depression and suicide

The month of September was National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and Thursday, September 10 was World Suicide Prevention Day. To help raise awareness of the fact that all over the world, kids, teens, and adults suffer from depression, which if untreated can lead to suicide, one of the Northwest Passage Prairieview residents, Lexie age 15, organized some activities. The girls and staff released balloons with personal messages on them. They also wore orange and green, tied orange and green ribbons to a fence, participated in a flash mob dance, and held a cookout.

What Lexie had to say about the day’s events:

“As many people know September 10 is National Depression Awareness and Suicide Prevention Day. This is something that is very close and important to me for various reasons. Not only was I intrigued to create a special day here for us Prairieview girls because of personal struggles but also because of research I sort of stumbled upon. For example, a suicide occurs every 40 seconds. Suicide is currently the third leading cause of death among teens worldwide and, lastly, according to the Department of Veteran Affairs, our armed forces face an epidemic of suicide; a service member committing suicide every 25 hours and a veteran committing suicide every 65 minutes. Suicide and depression are not a game and depression is a serious mental health condition and should ALWAYS be taken seriously because it can be fatal. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary situation. To help raise awareness I organized, with the help of staff, a cookout, balloon releasing, orange and green color wear, a flash mob dance and ribbon tying. Depression doesn’t have to be the end, rather a start to something great.

Some signs of depression are: Dropping grades, Lack of interest in once enjoyed activities, Withdrawing socially, Throwing and/or giving away treasured items, Dramatic change in appearance, Marked change in personality, Excessive or unusual lethargy, Suicidal thoughts and/or actions.”

If you know someone who is struggling with depression or you see signs that someone may be currently experiencing depression, encourage them to seek help. There are many resources that can be helpful to them, including several organizations:

Burnett County Crisis Services, http://www.burnettcounty.com/index.aspx?NID=176

Mental Health Task Force of Burnett County, http://www.healthyburnett.org/?page_id=179

Mental Health Task Force of Polk County, http://mentalhealthpolk.org/

And other web sites:

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/suicide-prevention/suicide-help-dealing-with-your-suicidal-thoughts-and-feelings.htm

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention/index.shtml

http://www.sprc.org/

If you or someone you know is ever in a suicide crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or National Hopeline Network at 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433) for help.

Meet the horse therapy staff

Adios

Adios is a 20-year-old pony born in Minnesota; he was originally the herd stallion and has many good natured sons and daughters. He was then acquired by Northwest Passage’s own Nancy Jensen, a former employee of many years. He was the companion of her grandchildren until they grew bigger than he did! This is his first year as an EAGALA pony.

Angel

Angel is a 19-year-old Appaloosa horse; has held many jobs in her life. She was a trail horse, a show horse, and a lesson horse. An injury slowed down her riding career, but has not stopped her from playing with the kids of Northwest Passage as an EAGALA horse. She has been working on and off with Northwest Passage for the last 4 years.

Cinnamon (a.k.a. CIndy)

Cinnamon/Cindy is a 14-year-old standard size donkey who comes to us from a training ranch. Her job used to be helping horse trainers start out young horses. After some personal hardship her owner reached out for a home for her and Northwest Passage happily gave her a new career as an EAGALA donkey. This is Cindy’s second year.

Tully

Tully is a 15-year-old horse who hails from Hannibal, WI. He was supposed to be born a spotted horse…but surprised his owners by coming out a beautiful solid buckskin color. He rode the trails with his owners until he became a lesson horse where he taught many young riders the virtue of patience! He has worked as a Northwest Passage EAGALA horse for the last 3 years.

SHARE

Passage Foundation awards $6200 to past clients

April 23rd marked the first Passage Foundation Board meeting of the year. The Board, comprised of various community members and Northwest Passage Staff, reviewed Scholarship applications from 4 past clients, awarding a grand total of $6200.

The funds will be used for everything from school tuition to rent expenses.

I wanted to update you on the fun and exciting things going on with the Passage Foundation!  We met yesterday and awarded money to 2 Northwest Passage Clients and 2 Northwest Journey Clients.

Jalyn W. received up to $2500/semester for her first year at UW-Superior.  She will be studying Psychology/Social Work.  Jalyn has overcome a lot lately (death of her mother and horse) and is still using her skills and working hard to be successful!

Alexa G. received an award of $2700.00 to help her buy clothing and establish her first apartment.  She has two jobs in the food service industry and this will really help her continue her positive efforts.  She doesn’t have a lot of supports, so Emily and Amanda have helped her a lot in this process!

Northwest Journey Approved $500 awards for Noah P. and Eric A, who are both are attending college.

Eric will by studying  gunsmithing, and Noah is pursuing a degree in Bible Studies.

Huge Congratulations to all of these great kids!!!  Remember, without your efforts and guidance, would likely not be where they are today!

Update regarding the Passage Foundation:

We meet in the Spring and Fall of each year.  Clients need to be out of the program for at least 6 months and be making efforts to be successful, law abiding and healthy individuals in their communities.  They can be 14, 24 or 34 years old and still apply and be eligible for an award.

Each time one of your kids calls back to update you on their efforts since discharge or to tell you a fun story, or look for advice, Please remind them about the Foundation!  Applications are in the public folders and on the website.  We are also looking into better ways to keep everyone informed and thinking about The Passage Foundation.

The Board currently consists of the following people, so feel free to ask them questions as well:

Rob Lillehaug

Himanshu Agrawal

Seth Pearson

Denny Tucker

Melissa Williams

Terry Larsen

Emily Gall

And Mandy O’Malley (me)

Pin It on Pinterest