All Kinds of News for May 06, 2020
In a time when the coronavirus pandemic has turned the world upside down and topsy-turvy seemingly overnight, the need for a sense of safety and healthy ways to tolerate distress persist in the children receiving mental health treatment at Northwest Passage. Social distancing and other recommendations to help keep others physically safe seem to fly in the face of what is known to help people cope with and overcome mental illness. From wearing masks that limit the ability to connect non-verbally to physically distancing from others it seemed, at first, the therapists and caregivers at Northwest Passage were being handed insurmountable hurdles. Instead, they learned their resilience-based, therapeutic lifestyle approach to mental health treatment was stronger than they thought.
Unfettered access to the outdoors has proven to be one of Northwest Passage’s greatest assets during the coronavirus pandemic. While the world beyond their campuses in rural northwestern Wisconsin is unpredictable and ever-changing, the biggest worry on their Prairieview prairie and Riverside peninsula has been “will it rain today?” Springtime in Wisconsin brings a wealth of opportunity for place-based learning and growth according to Northwest Passage’s grounding principle, the PassageWay. The PassageWay is an approach to wellness proposing the journey to a healthy lifestyle includes the building of skill and insight through the consistent awareness of the use of eight therapeutic lifestyle choices: Nature, Recreation, Relaxation, Nutrition, Exercise, Relationships, Service, and Spirit. Northwest Passage residents have practiced Service by building and installing bluebird nesting boxes and planting trees; Relationships by working together on the Prairie Challenge; Recreation and Relaxation by enjoying evening campfires; and Exercise while walking the Prairie and Peninsula trails and bicycling on the Gandy Dancer Trail - all while spending time in Nature. Northwest Passage residents and staff have found that practicing a therapeutic lifestyle is not only possible but necessary and even optimal in these unique times.
As an effort to increase opportunities for physical contact with other living beings, which has been so severely limited during this time, Northwest Passage chose to invite their equine partners back to campus much earlier than in previous years. The first weeks of intervention included simply spending quiet, uninterrupted time with the equine team which includes the addition of two goats this year. Residents have reflected on what they have noticed during these times and themes of connection, mindfulness, and peace have come up over and over. As the equine therapy agenda shifts over to targeted group and individual sessions, relationships seem to be at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
These program adjustments started with good communication and support for caregivers who were being asked to do many things they had never done before. Staff were encouraged and supported in the creative use of the outdoors while abiding by the state-mandated Safer at Home order. Now, more than ever, Northwest Passage remains committed to its mission of restoring hope through innovative mental health services for children and families.
Northwest Passage’s success is due in large part to its high-impact experiential programming. They have implemented a powerful therapeutic arts program, InaNewLight, and showcase their residents’ inspiring artwork to the public at the one-of-a-kind Northwest Passage Gallery in Webster, WI. Funded with private donations and grants, the InaNewLight program has provided an opportunity for Northwest Passage’s youth to travel around the country, and even internationally, capturing amazing sunsets, beautiful wildlife, and serene wilderness scenes with their cameras. Along the way, many also captured parts of themselves that were otherwise out of reach.
About Northwest Passage
Founded in 1978, Northwest Passage is a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring hope through innovative mental health services for children and families. With over 40 years of rich history, Northwest Passage has become a national leader in residential mental health assessment and treatment for youth experiencing severe and complex emotional and behavioral disruptions. The organization has two residential facilities. Riverside, situated on 70 acres of iconic Northwoods landscape and bisected by the winding Clam River in Webster, WI, serves boys ages 12-17. The Prairieview campus is located on 25 acres of rolling prairie in Frederic, WI, and houses females ages 12-17 as well as Northwest Passage’s Assessment Program which serves youth ages 6-17 in a co-ed environment.
Northwest Passage has earned academic accreditation through Cognia, Inc., formerly AdvancED. For more information about Northwest Passage call 715-327-4402 or visit nwpltd.org.