Campus Celebrates 10 Years, Acceptance of ‘Our Kids’

Campus Celebrates 10 Years, Acceptance of ‘Our Kids’

Eric Masi remembers the excitement and relief of cutting the ribbon on the Framingham campus of Wayside Youth & Family Support Network, an agency he has led as CEO for four decades. It was the culmination of advocacy, fundraising and dedication of staff, board members, families and advocates.

It’s been 10 years since Wayside combined four group homes, an accredited school, day treatment program and administrative offices on one site.

To date, Wayside’s Framingham campus has provided a place for more than 10,000 youth to talk to trusted adults and receive therapy from licensed clinicians while attending school. Clinicians help children process traumatic events in their lives and provide a safe place to live while receiving treatment. Wayside staff and teachers build confidence, self-esteem and allow kids to just be kids during a difficult time in their life.

The campus is exactly what Eric and others envisioned – an alternative to a hospital stay and a place where mental illness is treated the same as any other illness. The kids who come to Wayside can be with peers who are going through the same issues and experiencing similar struggles.

While the work is hard and sad and feels heavy most days, Wayside staff make sure to have a lot of fun with the kids, said Sara McCabe, vice president of Wayside’s campus services.

“We have weekly events such as game nights, talent shows, cookouts, costume dances, trivia, etc.,” she said. “You will never find a day on this campus where kids and staff are not laughing and having fun. It’s so awesome to watch the kids get to be kids and we as the employees, have a really good time joining them!”

Playing sports and laughing with friends while receiving mental health treatment may not sound like an earth-shattering concept, but it’s vastly different than 10 years ago when a mental health diagnosis came with enormous stigma. Instead of treating a child or family as if mental health issues are due to bad parenting or something they did wrong, therapy is now focused on the circumstances or combination of events that resulted in the need for intervention.

Kids who come to Wayside are diverted from a hospital psychiatric unit and provided with a setting that is far less traumatizing. At Wayside, residential stays are shorter thanks to the increase in the services available in the community. The goal is to keep children with their families and guardians whenever possible. Success is when kids leave our campus and return home or to school filled with strength, hope and resiliency.

There’s been many milestones to celebrate over 10 years, but the best thing Eric said he witnessed is the shift in perception and attitude about mental health.

“People no longer think of the kids who come to our campus and program as ‘those kids,’” Eric said. “They are simply our kids.”

Newsletter Archive
Follow Us on Instagram

For media inquiries please contact:

Betsy Freedman Doherty
Director of Communications & Development
[email protected]
Office: 508-469-3231

Like and Follow Wayside Youth & Family Support Network on Social Media!

Groups for Caregivers & Youth

©Copyright 2024, Wayside Youth & Family Support Network. All rights reserved.
Website Development by Lachance Web Design, LLC | Privacy | Site Map | Login | Employee Intranet