Amberwing helps Esko teen find deeper appreciation for life

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DULUTH, MN — Children, adults and the elderly; Mental health issues can affect people of all ages.

That includes Dawson Hoffman, who’s been dealing with depression for years. He says one local organization has played a big part in his journey to find a deeper appreciate for life.

“There’s been a lot of ups and downs,” Hoffman said. “It’s caused a lot of hard times with my family as well.”

Depression hit the Esko High School senior in a way, he says, was indescribable.

“It started in early 2016 and it went all the way through the summer of 2017,” Hoffman said.

In that moment, he says he felt he had no choice but to attempt to take his own life.

“It’s not something that just goes away, but I know that now I had the skills in the ability to handle it,” Hoffman said.

Those skills brought him to Amberwing, a Center for youth and family sell-being in Duluth.

“I was not excited at all to come, but I absolutely loved it after the first day,” Hoffman said.

A feeling that, staff say, is common among their young patients.

“Generally, when people walk in the doors they realize this is very different than I anticipated,” Supervisor Becky Hoversten-Mellem said. “It’s a warm, comforting, and welcoming environment.”

After going through Amberwing’s intensive three-week training program, Hoffman says he was able see the light.

“I had new skills that I could use in real life and I could put to use by trying to help myself,” Hoffman said.

Things as simple as picking up a pencil, a paint brush, a marker has helped Hoffman write his own future.

“Get a different perspective. Stand back, take a moment, and get a different perspective,” Hoversten-Mellem said.

It’s OK to not be OK, he says.

“It’s something you have to tell people about because otherwise you’re not going to be able to change it. You’re not going to be able to help,” Hoffman said.

And with many people in his corner, he says accepts who he is and appreciates life now more than ever.

“He’s grown amazing,” Hoversten-Mellem said. “It’s been so fun to watch him grow and turn into a young man who understands himself and approaches the world with some real confidence and bravery and compassion.”

Hoffman will be graduatuing from Esko High School on the 31st of this month.

Gamiel Hall

Gamiel Hall

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