Amberwing Offers Unique, Effective Care for Youth in Crisis

By KBJR News 1

December 19, 2012 Updated Dec 19, 2012 at 10:39 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com)-- The horrific shooting in Newtown, Connecticut is prompting talks concerning mental health issues.

The leaders of one Northland facility, helping children in crisis, are confident their model to address this issue would facilitate faster results for Americas' youth.

The story of Amberwing is a story of togetherness.

"I really feel like the voice of our community is right here in Amberwing."

A community pulling together, to take on an issue too often battled in isolation.

"I think what was pretty amazing is the way the whole community came together when we started talking about the shortage of mental health care that exists in the Northland," said Pat Burns, President of the Miller-Dwan Foundation.

It took close to five and a half years of planning, fundraising, and building to create a center helping youth that our struggling.

"We are very unique not only nationally, but I think we're unique internationally."

Staff at Amberwing use a unique method to address mental health issues.

"They are immersed with an activity therapists in either music, or drama, or art, or one of the movement therapy. We have a dog on site for pet therapy," said Rick Gertsema, Clinical Supervisor at Amberwing.

All in an effort to reduce a stigma.

"Our data is telling us we're seeing that at least 80% of our kids have significant improvement," said Gertsema.

An indicator of success Amberwing's leaders hope will catch on nationwide.

"Our mission is to reach people before it would ever get to that extreme."

That communities will learn from Duluth's example of pulling together to tackle a complicated problem.

Amberwing is partnering with the University of Minnesota-Duluth in an effort to get their work published.

After the New Year, their services will also be open to children under five.

Zach Vavricka

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