UNITED FOR KINDNESS, ACCEPTANCE AND INCLUSION
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!
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.
Our very own Ben Thwaits, Program Development Coordinator, was invited to do a TED Talk. He spoke at TEDx Gull Lake’s “The Art of Resilience” regional event this fall. You can check out his talk, “Focusing a Lens on Human Potential.”
His passion for the kids we serve is moving. Please take a few minutes and watch his talk.
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
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:
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.
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 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 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.
This summer session of horse therapy has been busy! Due to my horse addiction I have collected enough horses (much to my husband’s dismay) to do horse therapy continuously, which has allowed for much more time with all of our kiddos. A big, big thanks to Mark Elliott who completes the bulk of the horse chores during the week – feeding, moving fence panels, driving hay bales around, and most importantly… poop pick up! Also, a big thanks to all the staff, case managers, and program coordinators that help schedule horse therapy for the kids.
Over the course of the last three months, all of the Lakeshore boys have experienced six week group sessions with the horses. This last group struggled to come together during the activities, but developed this amazing ending ritual in which they all worked together to clean the arena and feed the horses each week. During the last session they used their expressive arts cameras to take pictures that represent their relationship with the animals. They took some really great group photos with the donkey.
Riverside boys have experienced the horses in a variety of ways. They had Dialectical Behavior Therapy skills group with the horses to help them learn the skill ACCEPTS. Three clients have been working in horse therapy during their individual therapy sessions. One of our clients has been working on building up the courage and motivation to create a narrative of his life. It will likely have a superhero theme – check out the next two photos of his “cave” (left) and “WonderDonkey” (right).
Garrett has focused on problem solving and we were even able to schedule a family therapy session, horsey style. Finally, Evan has been spending some one-on-one time with the horses. For his final session he painted with the horses to create a transitional object to hold him over until horse therapy starts up again. Check out his AMAZING painting.
The Prairieview girls also all engaged in a six week group session with the horses. They went about horse therapy in the way only our incredible girls know how. They asserted themselves throughout the whole six weeks. During their last session this erupted in beautiful cooperation and creativity.
Check out their photos in which they were making art with their equine partners. Check out one of the gals – when she started her project she leaned over to “beasty” (the big tan horse) and said quietly, “What should we draw, baby?”
Also, I was the one that suggested Ndolo put the apple in her mouth and then feed it to the donkey for a photo-op. Talk about a trust exercise! Way to go Ndolo!
Finally, our absolutely fantastic group of interns this year, started their internship out with some horse therapy to invite them to do some thinking about the direction they wanted to take their internship this year – wicked fun.
I can’t wait for our fall session that starts in October!
Angela Fredrickson, LCSW, Clinical Director
Keep an eye out for our introduction to the “staff” once the fall session swings into action this November.
Northwest Passage is committed to providing a diverse set of therapy opportunities to our kids. We are happy to be able to provide Equine Therapy sessions to our kids as an alternative way to open up and communicate about themselves and their lives. Those of us who have had an opportunity to experience the safety and comfort of Equine Therapy, can say just how special this is. Thank you to Shannon and Angela for making this happen. To learn more about our Equine Therapy sessions, please check out past articles on the subject here and here.
I gave you everything I had,
I risked everything for you to not get killed by my Dad.
I kept it 100 with you,
But all you did was play me for a fool.
You always told me I was your baby girl & you’d love me to the very end,
But now I just want to forget the entire world.
I forgive you,
But I can’t forget…it hurts
I really LoveHate you.
You were such a disgrace always leaving black and blue,
I tried to play it cool,
But I think everyone knew it was you.
In the end, you always said that you were sorry and you’d never do it again,
I believed you,
But it was never to end.
I forgive you,
But I can’t forget…it hurts
I really LoveHate you.
When I needed you to lend a hand,
You’d said to let ya know.
But you weren’t there.
I tried to leave and I couldn’t stand when you wouldn’t let me go.
My name is Monnee and I’m 16 years old, I am here at Northwest Passage to work on many things. This picture reminded me a lot about a past relationship. I picture myself as the leaf and the raindrops as many things that bothered me such as the abuse emotionally, verbally, and physically and all the stress. But as soon as I let the raindrop go, as in as soon as I let him go, I’ll be okay.
Monnee’s reflection is a part of her work at Northwest Passage, a mental health residential treatment center for kids dedicated to restoring hope through innovative mental health services for children and families. LoveHate is just one of the many great strides she is making on her journey of hope and healing. Thank you for sharing Monnee!
The girls at Prairieview got to go outside and spend some healing time in nature today.
This is an experience you want to live to see. Have you ever seen something so exciting, But so mindful? This flower is working, but all you see is stillness. There is much more to this flower than what you are seeing. Be Mindful yourself, and you just may see that this flower has a little MOVE to it.
My Name is Monnee Ne’Wese Haack and I am here at NWP to work on the things that will make me healthier and happier.
When I needed protection,
You were there.
When I needed love,
You were there.
When I needed an escape.
You were there.
But you didn’t help,
And you didn’t love,
And you weren’t an escape,
You were an addiction.
And now I am learning to help myself,
And escape into my own soul.
And I will fight you,
And I will win.
“Minding its own BEEsiness”
I love spring. I love seeing everything turn green, and the snow melt away. I love the blossoms on trees and bushes. Being able to “bee” outside with only a sweatshirt comforts me. It’s warm. It’s nice. Lots of people dislike when the weather begins to warm up because they fear something they believe will hurt them-bugs. When people see bees, their automatic response it to run and hide. People associate bees with being stung. But why? When I see people, I don’t associate them with murder, destruction of the earth, rape, thievery, or adultery. I think when we see a bee, our response should be grateful. They’re pollinating our flowers and crops. Flowers are beautiful. People love flowers, we buy them for our spouses for special occasions, and place them in the middle of our table for décor. Without bees, how would we be able to do so? I was super close to this bee, and it continued minding its own business, because I was not aggravating him in any way, hence, I was not running and trying to escape him. Bees are misunderstood. They are beautiful creatures & should be treated as such.
“Hide & Seek”
I chose to do my reflection on this picture because this turtle was not a happy turtle. In fact, he looks quite grumpy. It’s still a beautiful picture, though. It’s kind of like people. Everyone is going to be in a bad mood sometimes, or sometimes they’ll be sad, frustrated, and maybe even stubborn, but that doesn’t take away their beauty. It also reminds me of paparazzi with celebrities. They’ll go up and invade someone’s personal space and try to use it to their advantage when they’re upset. I’m kind of doing the same thing to this turtle…. Sorry bud.
Prairieview is an intensive residential mental health treatment center in Northwestern, Wisconsin.