2017 marks the 10th anniversary of the loss of Alex and start of the Alex Archie Foundation. We have accomplished a great deal in the last 10 years including:
• Helping start a new youth lacrosse program in Washington ME
• Providing scholarship awards for a graduating boy and girl lacrosse player at Pomperaug High School since 2008
• Providing summer camp opportunities to boys/girls Pomperaug Lacrosse players
• Provided transportation to Pomperaug HS V/JV Boys Lacrosse NCAA games to help initiate excitement in the program
• Creating an annual donation to The Hill School’s lacrosse program to help their players move on to find their dreams
• 8 years of providing financial support, summer camp scholarships and team equipment to support Bridgeport Youth lacrosse
• Providing scholarship awards for a boy lacrosse player from Central High School in Bridgeport CT and the adjoining Bridgeport area for the last 3 years.
• Fundraising and sending team equipment to The Fields of Growth program in Jamaica (a mission and lacrosse based program)
• Providing team equipment and financial support to the Harlem Boys Lacrosse Program
• Providing team equipment to the Driggs School in Waterbury, CT
We are proud of the accomplishments to fulfill our mission to help student athletes find their dreams through life and lacrosse and to keep Alex’s spirit and his love of life and lacrosse alive.
Over the last few years, we have also begun to talk out about mental health awareness and suicide prevention at the multiple venues we have had the opportunity to participate in. On the 10th anniversary of the AAF, the board has made a conscious decision to include mental heath awareness and suicide prevention as a part of our mission. The AAF is in a unique position to help bring this discussion out of the darkness for all students from middle school through college. To kick off this initiative, the AAF partnered with Active Minds and the Brown University Active Minds Chapter.
Active Minds was started by Alison Malmon when she was a junior at University of Pennsylvania following the suicide of her older brother, Brian. Brian, also a college student, had been experiencing depression and psychosis for three years but had concealed his symptoms from everyone around him. In the middle of his senior year, he returned to the family’s Potomac, Maryland home and began receiving treatment for what was later diagnosed as schizoaffective disorder. A year and a half later on March 24, 2000, as Alison was wrapping up her freshman year at Penn, Brian ended his life.
Recognizing that few Penn students were talking about mental health issues though many were affected, Alison was motivated to change that culture on her campus. She wanted to combat the stigma of mental illness, encourage students who needed help to seek it early, and prevent future tragedies like the one that took her brother’s life. After searching unsuccessfully for existing groups that she could simply bring to her campus, Alison created her own model and formed what was then known as Open Minds.
After a great first year, Open Minds at Penn gained enough support to expand onto other campuses. Kate Hard dedicated her first year as a Georgetown University transfer student to bringing the Penn program, and mental health awareness, to her new campus. At that time, she founded the second chapter of Active Minds at Georgetown, which gained the same momentum and support as had the Penn chapter.
The constant growth continued, and the National headquarters was established in Washington, DC during the summer of 2003. The new non-profit organization, and all of the affiliated campus chapters, was then renamed Active Minds, Inc., to reflect the progressive nature of this form of student advocacy in the mental health movement (activeminds.org).
On November 9, 2017 The AAF sponsored a speaker from Active Minds, Jordan Burnham of the greater Philadelphia area, to speak at an event put on by the Brown Chapter of Active Minds. Jordan spoke to approximately 100 of the faculty, student body and Brown University community in Providence RI about his story of how he, as a high school student, seemed to have it all. A popular student athlete, he was elected Freshman Class President, got good grades and had a loving family, including an older sister he adored. But the smiling happy face was a mask he wore to cover the anxiety and depression that lay beneath the surface—fear that he wasn’t good enough, difficulty with the transition into high school, pressure to excel academically as well as in sports. Soon he was drinking and his grades were falling, and he was finally diagnosed with depression. A year later, he found himself in a treatment center, and not long after that, in a hospital bed, following his attempt to end his life by free-falling from his 9th floor bedroom window.
Now, Jordan speaks out about his struggles, a messenger of hope for others that although we can’t choose the things that happen to us we CAN choose how we cope with them. With a combination of talk therapy and medication, physical exercise and a wide support network of family, friends and fellow advocates, Jordan copes with depression in healthy positive ways, living the example that everyone should feel confident about seeking and accepting help.
As a part of the sponsorship, Active Minds gifted an additional speaking presentation at a local Providence high school. Unfortunately scheduling conflicts preventing us from making this a reality on this first year. The AAF is working with the Brown Chapter of the Active Minds to make this an annual event to continue the discussion on the Brown campus. We have also begun discussions with the men’s lacrosse program (thanks Mike Daly) and the engineering school for other ways to support Brown’s efforts to bring mental health awareness and suicide prevention to the forefront. Over the next year the AAF is committed to expanding these discussions at other middle school, high school and college campus across the US. Please contact us if you are interested in helping, funding or know of communities that have interest in supporting their communities, through lacrosse and mental health awareness.
Tom and Lisa Archie
Co-Presidents – Alex Archie Foundation