Alexander Youth Network – Helping Kids and Families


“We’re here to help. If a child has a persistent behavioral or emotional problem, it’s a brain health issue, and there’s help for that just like any other health issue.”  Trish Hobson, VP of Alexander Children’s Foundation

AYN drums

 Tucked away off Thermal Road is a peaceful, 60-acre campus that was once a dairy farm – and which now is a refuge for children.  Alexander Youth Network (AYN), a nonprofit institution, has been helping children and families since 1888, when it began as an orphanage in the post-Reconstruction era.  Over time, it reoriented its mission to be able to help children who needed emotional and psychological treatment and assistance.

This lovely, quiet setting is home to a residential treatment program where children ages 5-14 live in group home cottages, typically for about six months before transitioning back into the community.  AYN also has a day treatment program for children to receive intensive therapy along with their schooling.  Outcomes are impressive, with 80% to 90% rates of treatment success.  They also offer intensive in-home treatment programs as well as more traditional (weekly) therapy.

Children have plenty of opportunities for growth through play.  For instance, drumming is one of the most popular classes because, say the kids, “I can hit it as hard as I can and not get into trouble!”  But while they’re learning drum rhythms, they’re also learning that those same rhythms can help them regulate their own body’s rhythms.  While they’re swimming, they’re also learning important neural, physical, and social lessons.  Art helps them express feelings that they may not have words for.

alexander-youth-network-aynGot an hour? See how you might lend a hand. AYN is looking for lunch or dinner buddies: you’ll be paired up with a child, eating, chatting, and playing together for a little while, helping your child understand what a healthy adult relationship looks like.   Volunteers are important to AYN’s mission – to help children achieve their potential, and become positive contributors to society — and anyone interested should go to their Alexander Youth Network’s website to learn more.