Family Foundation School / Allynwood Academy
CLOSED (August 2014)


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J. B.

Student 1998-2000

 I was the February 2000 Family Foundation School Student of the Month. I was captain of the varsity basketball team. I scored no lower than a 90 on all of my New York State Regents school exams. I was one of the leads in an FFS musical, showed to all the parents. I was in the prize winning chorus. I graduated from high school. I still wake up sweating and panting because I have nightmares that I am still back at the Family School. I was abused.

While at the family school, I was punished by having to sit/stand in the corner, by having to carry buckets of rocks up and down a three hundred yard hill in the rain, leaving me in so much pain I couldn't carry my backpack for a week, I had my food portions cut for days because of things I never did, I was not allowed to speak to my family and other peers for six months. I was forced to attend religious services everyday. I was told I wasn't going to graduate and that I would have to stay at the school for six months more, because I made an honest mistake.

I saw kids get slammed on the floor by staff. I saw kids waste away to nothing as their food was cut to barely nothing and were still forced to work carrying rocks all day. I was told that me telling all the secrets of my life was me doing an AA fourth step, this list I was forced to divulge to my family...I am five years sober in AA, a list of my dirty secrets is NOT a fourth step and NO it shouldn't ever be shared with family. I was called a piece of shit. I saw students get verbally abused and joined in on the abuse myself, which I am most ashamed of.I am most ashamed that I was brainwashed. I was a young, hurt kid whose mother had died and I was seeking to be a part of something greater, something good, so I was quickly taught to believe that by yelling at other kids, tying other kids up in blankets, I was achieving my goal. I was very wrong.

The family school never set me up to succeed, they gave me a high school degree but that's about it. After leaving I quickly relapsed only to get sober through the loving hands of AA.This past year I entered a treatment facility which specializes in childhood trauma and PTSD, it is one of the best in the world. The amount of work I have had to do to clear the trauma of the family school is sizable. My thoughts were confirmed that yes I was abused, I was traumatized, rationing food to children IS wrong, screaming at kids IS wrong, work sanctions ARE wrong, that "school" is wrong.

Thankfully due to this treatment the nightmares have stopped but, the memory of the abuse I incurred will always be with me. And the really sad part is that the staff thinks they are helping the kids, they are not, they can only see it from their point of view, they don't know what it's like to be always on guard because you are so scared of getting yelled at. They don't know what it's like to have to divulge private information to people you don't know or trust. They don't know what it's like to be abused. They don't know what it's like to not be allowed to speak to your own family.

My wish is that this place be shut down and I feel proud that I have been able to find my voice and to tell my experience without fear. Keep up the fight!