WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WKBW) — Back in 2013, the Western New York's Children's Psychiatric Center - serving children ages 4 through 18 - was on the verge of shutting down in West Seneca.
The children undergoing treatment there would have been moved to the Buffalo Psychiatric Center, an adult facility.
"Kids don't belong with adults and there's always been a good percentage of those kids that are there at Children's that had been in fact traumatized by adults," said David Chudy, who was the co-chair of the group to save the WNY Children's Psychiatric Center.
He said the group fought for five years to show why the center was needed. And it wasn't until April of last year that Governor Andrew Cuomo announced it would stay open permanently, much to Chudy's relief.
"Every kid who was at that facility that I got to know, and every parent, family member spoke of that environment as being a key to healing," he said.
The Children's Psychiatric Center serves eight counties.
Chudy said the children he met are very brave; when it came to advocating for the center to stay open, they were willing to go on camera and talk about what they were going through.
"Literally to hear a kid say 'I'd be dead if it wasn't for the Children's Psych Center.' So can see the healing that place can do," he said. "And here it is five years later, and when I think about it I still get a little emotional."
Chudy adds that there's definitely a need for this facility, and that there's often a waiting list for the center.
"We need to continue to get the message out to people but there is a stigma with it, so it should be part of every class even from the very young grades. You know, if you're upset or you're feeling bad thoughts there's somebody that you can talk to," he said.