Knowing Your Neighbors: In a New Light Gallery

WEBSTER, Wis. – Kids in mental health treatment are finding their strengths in a unique program in Northwestern Wisconsin.

Northwest Passage is a residential treatment facility that helps about seventy-five kids at a time and three-hundred fifty every year on campuses in Webster and Frederic, Wisconsin.

Along Highway 35, the program has a special gallery showcasing original artwork made by those kids.

“I think the thing that we hear the most is people saying, ‘I’ve driven by this place a thousand times and I’ve never stopped and today’s the day,'” said development and communications director Julie Hall.

Snapshots of beautiful outdoor scenes fill the walls of the ‘In a New Light’ gallery.

“They haven’t had the time to turn off their electronics, put away all the noise that surrounds them and really just get back to nature and that’s the unique part of the setting that we have up here in Webster,” said Hall.

In addition to working with traditional therapists, the kids use art to develop skills like photography and regain a sense of pride.

“The kids that come to us a lot of times have some backgrounds of some severe trauma, neglect, and abuse and they haven’t had adults that give them any kind of positive reinforcement or let them know that what they’re doing is good and that they’re good at anything,” said Hall.

‘In a New Light’ is open Monday through Friday and all the artwork is for sale, with profits going right back into the program.

“Most of our photographs have cards with them that tell you a little bit about the artist, about something that they’ve been through in their life or what they’re reflecting on when they took the photo so it really is a place where you can lose yourself for an hour or so reading about all these different stories,” explained Hall.

Now, a major expansion is underway that will nearly triple the gallery space. Studios are being added for the kids to use in the winter and for local artists to rent.

“We have a wall in the gallery that’s our ‘Where Are They Now’ wall and have a lot of great success stories and a lot of our kids go on to actually have hobbies in photography or even careers in photography,” said Hall.

Northwest Passage encourages everybody to stop by the gallery, buy some prints, and learn all about the innovative services happening there.

The new expansion is expected to be finished by the end of the year.

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