MINOCQUA - It almost felt like summertime at The Waters of Minocqua.
While the kids had time to play, the adults went to workshops for parents with children with special needs.
"The idea is that information and education is the best tool to help your child," said Wisconsin Family Ties Parent Specialist, Jackie Baldwin.
"If you don't have the information that you need, it's difficult to make those decisions as to how to help them."
Wisconsin Family Ties had three different workshops.
One for how to handle a crisis, caregivers taking care of themselves and kids transitioning into young adults.
"They gave a lot of really good strategies on helping to deescalate as well as kind of reminding you that children can do well," parent who attended workshops, Melanie Smith said.
"If they can, they will. Everybody wants to do a good job and kids are the same way."
Workshop leaders stressed to parents the importance of communication with their kids.
Especially when they get older and want to start doing everything they see their friends doing.
"What you need to do is find that right balance of support in the middle. And usually that involves a lot of negotiation and a lot of work," said Arc of the Northwoods Coalition, Deanna Yost.
"A lot of sitting down, being upfront with that, you're son or daughter or whoever you're supporting."
Melanie Smith says it's nice to know that she's not the only one going through these types of struggles.
"Hearing other parents that go through the same struggles as you do is very reaffirming. Because when you have a child with special needs and they have behavioral problems and all you hear are the negatives constantly, it's so nice to hear that people affirm 'hey you're doing a good job.'" Smith said.
"It's not through some falls of your own that your child has disabilities. You know your child is a blessing and it might be a little bit more difficult, but that doesn't make them bad or less than other kids."
Wisconsin Family Ties will host another event in Madison celebrating Children's Mental Health Awareness Day on May 9th.
MINOCQUA - You know summer in the Northwoods will soon be here when seasonal businesses start opening up again.
Wildwood Wildlife Park opened up Saturday in Minocqua.
Hundreds of people rushed to the gate today to see all different types of animals, some local and some exotic.
"We are so busy today but it's a beautiful day to come out to Wildwood," said the park's director Judy Domaszek. "This is one of our baby aoudads, it's an African sheep, and as you can see in the background there are many people busy playing with the baby goats, and the sheep and the pigs and the tortoises, and they're just enjoying their day."
On Saturday the park had a giraffe feeding.
Workers also have been renovating and expanding the park.
The park has many new animals on the way, including some baby animals that were born there.
"The mouflon sheep are new, we've got some new reptiles, we have some new babies that we're going to have down in the nursery in a little while," Domaszek said. "We actually had a baby badger born here at the zoo. And we have a baby kangaroo. Those guys are all coming down when it's safe to come down."
Wildwood is open every day from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Then after Memorial Day the park stays open till 5:30 p.m. for the summer.
NORTHWOODS - Prescription drugs play an important role in our health.
They help us recover if we're sick, cope if we have a chronic condition and help manage pain.
But those drugs can expire or just stay in the back of our medicine cabinets for months or years.
And if those drugs get into the wrong hands—such as toddlers or abusers—that's a problem.
That's why many local police and sheriff's departments participate in the National Prescription Drug Take-Back program.
It's run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Saturday was National Take-Back Day.
"We're keeping the controlled substances in the hands they're supposed to be in, especially with the pill epidemic now, it's important that these stay out of the hands of people that are abusing them," said Minocqua Police Officer Matthew Tate.
Several area police departments hosted drop-offs Saturday.
You can drop off prescription or over-the-counter pills, ointments, patches, non-aerosol sprays, vials and pet medications. You cannot bring in inhalers or aerosol cans, and you cannot drop off illegal drugs or needles.
All the drugs are brought to the state Department of Justice where they will be incinerated.
That's better than just flushing them or throwing them out in the trash.
"It's very important that it's not getting into our ground water is the main thing," Tate said. "We just don't want people dumping them in toilets or in their garbage."
If you have prescription drugs you want to get rid of safely, don't worry if you missed Saturday's opportunity. Many area police stations have drug drop-off bins in their lobbies, so you can drop them off any time of the year.
MINOCQUA - Lakeland and Antigo generally square off as rivals in Great Northern Conference competition. But on Friday, nearly a week removed from the prom shootings in Antigo, Lakeland wanted to show that it was on Antigo's side.
"It's hard to react to something like this, because you want to be concerned, and you want to help, but it's hard to know how to help," said Maggie Laurence, a Lakeland sophomore and Student Council member.
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