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

New Resources Refresh the Equine Therapy Program

Thanks to our clinical director Angela Frederickson, we have been able to provide Equine Therapy to our Northwest Passage kids for the past eight years. It has been an excellent experience for many of our kids and we are so happy to announce that our program is not only flourishing but it is also growing!

Passage is bringing back horses to the Gallery grounds on Fridays for the Riverside boys. Horses will also now be available at the Prairieview and Assessment facilities. Plus we have added another EAGALA certified clinician at Riverside who can facilitate the Riverside programming at the Gallery.

EAGALA stands for Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association. According to, EAGALA is the leading international nonprofit association for professionals incorporating horses to address mental health and personal development needs. Incorporating horses into our kid’s treatment plans is a refreshing way that they can become more introspective.

Equine therapy can be a great tool used by our residents. Associate editor at Psych Central, Margarita Tartakovsky M.S. explains, “Because horses can sense a person’s feelings and respond accordingly, they can serve as a mirror that the person can use to see and understand feelings they may not be aware of.”

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The EAGALA website states, “To evade predators, horses have evolved to be extremely sensitive to their environment. They instinctively analyze and react to our body language and other nonverbal cues. As a result, we are able to gain insight into our own nonverbal communication and behavior patterns. The EAGALA Model invites clients into an arena for ground-based interaction with horses to facilitate the therapeutic process. These horses become the focal point in client-driven discovery and analysis.”

Our newest EAGALA clinican, Kayla said, “I grew up riding horses in northwest Wisconsin with my family. One of the horses I am bringing to Passage has been with me since I was 12 years old and he has not only taught me how to ride, but also taught me how horses can impact people from the ground.”

The EAGALA model is based on off all groundwork; at no point does a client ever mount or ride a horse. By just being in the arena with the horses our clients can experience comfort, support and sometimes even a challenge. At that point, the horses become a part of the treatment team because they are apart of the recovery process and what happens in the arena. As part of the EAGALA model the animal is represented as a professional partner.

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EAGALA has more of a mental health focus compared to other horse therapy programs and is all about giving the kids a place to be themselves and to experience their issues in the moment. It requires a lot of trusting in the horses to take care of the session and to be able to sense what is needed in that moment.

Horses require relationships to be built in order to trust. They require relationship repair the same as any person would after damage has been made, but they don’t pre-judge the way that people tend to. The horses do not get a rundown of the client’s mental health history or any background information.

Tartakovsky continues to explain the opportunities for cultivating healthy relationships; “Horses offer the person a non-judging relationship, which can help a person struggling with the negative relationship consequences from his mental illness to rebuild his confidence without fear of criticism.”
During our equine sessions, the horses are set loose and are free to roam around the arena so that they are able to be themselves. They each have their own personalities and mannerisms. It is entirely up to the residents to interpret the feedback that the horses give. The clinicians who facilitate these sessions are strictly there to provide emotional and physical safety if need be.

EAGALA is about trusting the herd. Due to this being such an experiential model, it is important that the horses names, genders, and ages are not identified to the clients so that they can utilize them as they see necessary in the moment.

Overall, Northwest Passage is excited to be exploring another innovative therapeutic method so the work can continue to expand on our diverse, yet effective paths of healing. By taking to these new techniques, it is just one more way Passage stands out from other residential treatment facilities. Northwest Passage continues to look forward to seeing all the progress our kids will make due to equine therapy!

Where I’m From…


I am from old blankets,

from Animal Planet

and Walmart clothes.

I am from the dandelions

In my yard.

The maple out my window

That woke me up at night.

I am fireworks and fights,

From my mother Sara,

my father Sean

and the Madays.

I am from the cigarettes

In my room,

And the dirty dishes in the sink.

I’m from “I love you” and

“I want nothing to do with you.”

I am from the great creator.

I’m from Ashland, ramen noodles and soda.

From the father with a gun

And the hate in his words.

And the love from my mother.

I am from the black chest in the basement

Filled with miscellaneous

Items from my past.

I am from those moments

in my pasts that haunt me

but at the same time I cherish.


I am from music

From The Beatles to Nirvana.

I am from the cat infested farm

Filled with childhood memories

Once beautiful, once ours.

I am from the crabapple tree

The lavender bushes

Whose scent surrounded me on the day of my birth.

I am from PlayStation and addictions

From Whitebird and Merrill and Johnson.

I am from law breakers and runaways

From “It’s all your fault” to “You’re safe now”

I am from spirituality

But that’s where it ends.

I am from St. Croix Falls and Ashland

Wild rice and fry-bread

From the death threats from love ones

Forever cut into my thoughts

The dishonor

And the long line of my mother’s lovers.

I am from the question of my worth

The proof of my youth lost

Between the paranoid relocations

The pictures worth nothing now.

I am from these moments

Which make me who I am today.

I will rise up again

From ashes to dust

In adolescent resilience.


I am from dark chocolate

From the cacao seed and dove.

I am from the wood on the garage floor

It’s sharp, rough and it smells so fresh.

I am from the rose bush the sweet aroma in the air

the thorns that protect me

from the fears and dangers that could harm me.

I am from Hispanic food and love

From Jonathan and Kelly.

I am from the risk takers

and the loving parents

from starting a new leaf and

I am from no religion.

I am from Antigua in Guatemala and Ireland

blueberry pancakes and enchiladas

From the daddy daughter dance

my dad told my sister to wear a dress

from the embarrassment my sister had.

I am from the family picture books

at my grandparents house

remembering my memories and adventures

This is who I am


I am from jeans, from Levi’s and Lei.

I am from the paint, its wet all over the walls

It starts to smell like burnt wood.

I am from the roses, the daisies.

I am from Christmas, and the happiness

From Jessica to bobby all the way to Wesley.

I am from the cooking and baking we do.

From “Stop moving” to the “Drink your milk” they all say.

From believing is the science of evolving from other animals.

I am from America where the steak and the chicken that we are known for.

From the finger my uncle almost cut off by trying to skin his deer,

From the cat that is turning 144 in cat years,

And the fingers my little brother broke in a car door.

I’m from the walls in the house I live in.

I am from the short moments when a new mother sees her child for the first time.


I am from the bullets of a Smith & Wesson pistol- BANG! BANG!

Where did she go, who did she hit?

I am from the violent hoods and the silent homes with they who hide,

I am from the fire that intensifies, bringing light to their eyes,

I am from hustlers and fighters, from these gashes that heals infinitely they are the survivors who made me.

We are broken yet no one can demise us.

I am from the Gales to the York’s ultimately I’m Gale and Mouth, I’m the seed they planted from the soil of purest grime, and I will rise into the grand Oak.

I am from wisdom and rebellion, wasn’t born into failure, we grow into supreme intelligence. They scream to me “give them mercy, for who else will”

I am from my mother’s words “Don’t be careless, be kind to them”

I am from my father’s sharp words “You gotta hustle”

Watch me tend from the dirt and sweat, my ancestors bleed. I am from the cotton fields and rice lakes my ancestors slaved to receive grace.

We will never forget our world before the pain, ashes of the peace stained into my DNA.

I am from Yahweh, Who gives me strength to rise up and be praised. I am from the voice he gave to me.

I am from the Matthew prayer engraved into my brain:

Our Father who art in Heaven. Holy is his name, thy is his kingdom come, they shall be judged on earth and blessed in heaven, give us this day our daily faith and forgive our debts & forgive me, as we have forgiven our debtors and lead me not into temptation but deliver me from my evil within, for I forgive man and their trespasses Yahweh my father will you bless my mistakes?

I am from the never ending mountains of his grace.

I am from the soul of Africa and from the gold of Cambodia.

I am from morning bah-baul and my great grandmother’s famous heart baked biscuits. I could never leave you tasteless.

I am from the misadventures of Aeng’s WWE training, to emotional draining, remember the rolling and tumbling in the dryer, bruises and cuts forever staining, but look at me I made it!

I am from the photo of the girl in a traditional sari trying to please.

I am from the the picture of a mother in peace with her ‘big baby’ saying cheese.

I am from those moments with the s



I am from dirty socks, from Grape Kool-Aid and Urine Remover.

I am from the broken screen door, rusted over and shattered feels like nails on a chalk board.

I am from the rose, the cactus who uses their spiky ends to protect their inner self.

I am from cutting my hair every time a family member dies and violence, from Pops, Nana and Mother.

I am from the hotheads and goofies.

From “Kids being made by watermelon seeds” and “I brought you into this world I can take you out.”

I am from the Great Spirit and not talking much about religion.

I was born in Minneapolis\\St. Paul but I am from The White Earth Reservation, cabbage and noodles and fried bread.

From the story of my dad was a no good druggie, the hardworking man he was most of the time and my brother who reminds me of my dad at times.

I am from inside the family cabinet, my grandma’s old moccasins and dream catchers, believing in the power to protect me from bad dreams and spirits and reminding me of my Native Heritage.


I am from music boxes

From Netflix and bacon strips

I am from the creak of the old wooden door

I am from the dust of dandelions

Sprinkled in the backyard

I am from pot roast and 50’s music

From Khulan and Voglands

I’m from the prideful hearts and the hand-me-downs

From “Cheer up, buttercup” and “Life will get better”

I’m from the hymns of “Amazing Grace”

To the many verses I’ve memorized

And the old tattered Bible on my mother’s chair

I’m from Mongolia and the sleek backs of the wild horses

Mashed potatoes and fried chicken

From crazy Grandma Jan who has little too much to drink

The hearing aid my father used

Because he was slowly going deaf

I am from the photo I found in a gold locket

The class ring my mother bought

White snowy landscape on a sparkling Christmas night

I am from those moments

Good and bad

The ones who have shaped me into who I am

Preparing me to spread my wings and fly


We believe that our kids have stories worth listening to.

State Senator Visits Prairieview

State Senator Sheila Harsdorf paid a visit to Northwest Passage last week for a tour given by current Prairieview client Jade, age 16. Jade walked her through the building explaining what a day in the life of a kid at Northwest Passage looks like, while Program Director, Ellen Race, and Executive Director, Mark Elliott tagged along.

Jade explained what had happened in her life to bring her to Northwest Passage and then described the many different therapies and activities that happen within the walls of her program and the assessment program. She enjoyed her time with the senator.

“While meeting with State Senator Harsdorf I found I could talk with her easily,” Jade said of their interactions. “She seemed to show a lot of compassion for my future and what Northwest Passage is doing for teens with mental health disorders. Senator Harsdorf also has a way of making others feel important and comfortable. I felt I could tell her somewhat personal things about my life because she listens to people and enjoys what they have to say. I appreciated having the chance to meet her. She showed interest in my future to pursue my dreams. I informed her of the many opportunities Northwest Passage has to offer and how it has helped shape my character.”

“It was so great to have Senator Harsdorf visit our program,” Race said. “It’s such a terrific opportunity to share the important work being done here at Northwest Passage with children and adolescents. Senator Harsdorf really connected to our kids and was invested in hearing their stories.”

This visit meant a lot. Senator Harsdorf is a role model to the young ladies of Northwest Passage Prairieview, showing them what strong women can do. It is also a reminder that representatives care about their community and what is happening in their regions.

The Cedar Classroom in Action


Here are the latest news bulletins out of the Cedar classroom.

  • Cedar welcome’s a new pet! Meet Rambo, a 5-month-old bearded dragon.
  • Isaiah wins “room of the week” and as a rewards spend some special time with Rambo & staff; look at that smile!
  • Cedar hits the trails, learns about local plant life, taps maple syrup, and even gets a local history lesson! They marvel at the local legend, the boat wrapped around the telephone pole, a result of the 2001 Siren tornado.
  • Cedar gets a sweet tooth and enjoys tasty treats from Frederic Bakery this morning.


WAB Visits the Gallery


Five arts officials from Madison visited Northwest Passage’s In a New Light Gallery on the last day of January as part of their travels through northwest Wisconsin.

NWP Executive Director Mark Elliott and Development Director Chanda Elliott had the opportunity to speak with George Tzougros, executive director of the Wisconsin Arts Board, a division of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism.

Together with Tzougros, WAB Assistant Director Karen Goeschko, and Folk Arts Program Coordinator Kaitlyn Berle toured the gallery which showcases the photography and artwork of resident youth.

“We spoke about the power of art and nature that is an integral component of our mental health treatment,” said Mark Elliot. “The gallery is a space for youth to celebrate themselves and the natural world around them through photography. The images they capture are amazing pieces of art.”

Arts Wisconsin Executive Director Anne Katz was enthusiastic.“It was quite a thrill to finally see the In A New Light Gallery and the outstanding work by those talented young artists after hearing so much about it over the years. What a wonderful example of creative expression and engagement!”

Arts Wisconsin is an independent non-profit organization that serves as the voice for the arts in Wisconsin.

The photography is on public display and is used for retail products ranging from the 2017 calendar to coffee table books, framed prints and greeting cards. In a New Light Gallery is open Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., located one mile south of Webster on St. Rd 35.

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

Special thanks to Harriet Rice for this opporutnity.

Winter Fun


Over the weekend we had the opportunity to go off grounds with the Oak kiddos to do some snowshoeing and ice fishing.  All of the residents enjoyed themselves and learned the character lesson of the day which was “Seek Adventure Bravely.”  Many had never been fishing, or to a lake in the woods let alone ice-fishing.  Many also experienced snowshoeing and discovering game trails while hiking for the first time.  Those who were more experienced helped those who weren’t and all shared in lots of laughs and sunny winter fun. 


Soar to new heights


We know how busy you are and we’re honored you took a moment to read this story so we’ll get right to the point. Please take seven minutes out of your day to watch this video.

We invite you to take an emotional journey with the ladies of Prairieview. Filmmaker Meredith Nelson takes us inside the minds of these girls so that you, the viewer, can confront and reflect upon the issues our girls struggle with. They’ve articulated their journey beautifully through poetry and prose and they express their insight into how photography gives them a chance to freely explore outwardly so they don’t feel trapped inwardly, in a controlled, safe environment, and how liberating/novel that is for them; they can express themselves and release certain feelings in ways they couldn’t before. They get first-hand experiences with intangible and tangible results.

Take a moment to honor these experiences through this video.

Meet the Stars of the Show


“Zana is brilliantly articulate; Brooklyn is endearing and honest; Becca is our heroine; Zianni and Lauryn offer additional insights about the world and their experiences exploring it in a different way, finding extraordinary in the seemingly ordinary..” 

Meredith Nelson


State Representitives visit Passage

From left to right: State Senator Sheila Harsdorf, Representative Adam Jarchow, Northwest Passage Executive Director Mark Elliott, and Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett


Northwest Passage is always working to expand the visibility of our kids’ talents and worth through our In a New Light Gallery. Their work has been displayed at exhibits, both nationally and locally, and have been seen by over a million people! But there are still people who haven’t seen their work. That is why Northwest Passage hosted local tourism advocates at our gallery to meet with State Officials to discuss tourism in Burnett County and introduce them to the beauty of our area through our nature photography and the spirit of our kids. “We were honored to have the Senator, State Representative, and the Secretary at our Gallery. To be able to walk them through our space and introduce them to our kids was really special,” says Executive Director Mark Elliott.

Opportunities like these, where local community members come together with state level officials don’t happen every day. We’re thrilled to have had the time and space to foster a moment of awe for our visitors at the In a New Light Gallery and to collaborate on enriching our community. But we weren’t the only ones to enjoy it. Check out what our guests had to say below!

It was a great opportunity for NWP to share all the amazing work our kids our doing. Most of the youth that come into our program never get to celebrate anything positive in their lives. The Gallery gives them an opportunity to share their photography and stories not only with their family members, but also the community. To have representatives from the State of Wisconsin come in and see that the kids are making progress on their path to hope and healing was just incredible.

Chanda Elliott

Development Director, Northwest Passage

Tremendous visit, we gained a lot of information. We hope that State Senator Sheila Harsdorf will come back in the fall. The Burnett County Coalition would host a fall dinner meeting and a large informational meeting at which the Senator could present to the county business leaders.

Larry Main

Owner and Operator, The Main Store

It was great to  have Sec. Klett visit Burnett County and share her tourism spirit! Sen. Harsdorf and Rep. Jarchow demonstrated their support for economic development by getting out and learning about the great things happening in Burnett County.

Mike Kornmann

Community Development Agent, UW Extension - Burnett County

The meeting was great.  It was wonderful to have the opportunity to discuss our local tourism environment and needs with Secretary Klett, Senator Harsdorf, and Representative Jarchow.

Their keen interest and open willingness to work with us to enhance our Burnett County tourism efforts was very apparent as they offered staff assistance, e.g. Burnett County Farmers’ Market ‘farm to table’ grant review, and proven ideas, e.g. ‘county wide’ Restaurant Week, to bolster our local economy.  With return on investment being an 8:1 ratio, focus on growth in tourism must be seen and remain as a key area for our county’s continued success, which they are in full support.

Chris Moeller

Executive Director, Siren Chamber of Commerce


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