All Kinds of News for November 11, 2020
When COVID-19 concerns forced the cancelation of their 2020 Artist-in-Residence program, the experiential teaching staff at Northwest Passage developed an alternative project, Paddles on the Namekagon. Over the ten-week project duration, each student designed and painted an original paddle, as unique as the young artist who created it, using the ecology, history, and novelty of the Namekagon River as their inspiration.
The project took place at the historic Schaefer Cabin, constructed in 1927. Due to its architectural integrity and high aesthetic quality, the cabin, now owned by the National Park Service, was declared eligible for the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. Tucked deep in the woods, with a view of the Namekagon River through emerald leaves, it served as a refuge from daily routine and a home base for the Paddles on the Namekagon project.
The students began by exploring the natural beauty surrounding the cabin and practicing their canoeing skills, learning how to steer the canoes with paddles and how to unload and load the canoes as a team. They also learned how to use an underwater camera, which would be an important skill later in the project. When the kids were ready to canoe down the Namekagon River for the first time, they took photos, both above and below the surface, taking special notice of the small plants and bugs that revealed a whole palette of colors that may have gone unnoticed at first glance.
Next, the students prepared their paddles for painting. They learned how to sand and applied that new knowledge to their work. They sprayed the paddles with water from the Namekagon River to raise the wood grain to help the paint adhere to the paddle. After the sanding process, the students began to tape their designs on the paddles.
Finally, it was time to paint using a palette of colors sourced from their own nature photographs taken along the Namekagon River. The painting took several weeks and the kids discovered that the painting process, like life, involves a lot of trial and error. When, at last, the students added the final touches to their paddles and lifted the tape off to reveal their finished designs, they felt a sense of accomplishment and expressed contentment with their finished paddles.
As summer began to fade, it was time to say goodbye to Schaefer Cabin. The students cleaned up their workspaces and reflected on the time they spent along the Namekagon River. They reminisced on their joyful memories at the cabin and shared stories of the moments they were challenged.
Northwest Passage has witnessed the unique power art holds to serve as a mode of expression for children with severe mental health challenges and are leaders in innovatively leveraging nature as a stage for healing. They express sincere gratitude to the National Park Service, the Kohler Foundation, and the Horst Rechelbacher Foundation for their generous support of this project.
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’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.
Northwest Passage is accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA) and has earned academic accreditation through Cognia, Inc. For more information about Northwest Passage call 715-327-4402 or visit nwpltd.org.