Former CIP Initiatives
Large-scale Multi-year Service Provision
Big Brothers Big Sisters http://www.nutmegbigbrothersbigsisters.com/
The Big Brothers Big Sisters child mentoring program is a national program that has been in existence for several decades. June 2008 to August 2010, the IMRP’s CIP program provided additional funding that allowed more matches to be made between mentors and children of incarcerated parents. During the initial year of funding, from June 2008 until August 2009, approximately 153 children were matched with a mentor. In the second year, beginning in August 2009 and ending in August 2010, about 106 new children were served. A quantitative and qualitative evaluation of the services provided to the children was conducted by CCSU faculty and staff.
Small-scale Pilot Interventions
What I Want to Say www.judydworin.org/
In April of 2009, the IMRP contracted with the Judy Dworin Performance Project, Inc. (JDPP) to provide What I Want to Say, an arts-based outreach activity with women incarcerated at York Correctional Institution (York CI), Connecticut’s only female state prison, and their children in the community. JDPP, Families in Crisis, York CI staff, and the IMRP worked with women at York Correctional Facility and their children in a series of collaborative projects in dance, song, storytelling, poetry and personal testimony. One goal of the project was to bridge the gap between mothers and their children to more effectively support and nurture communication and bonding. Another goal was to raise public awareness to issues impacting children with incarcerated mothers.
Bridging the Divides: An Arts Intervention for Children with Incarcerated Parents www.judydworin.org/
In 2010, the JDPP expanded What I Want to Say to work with children in the community during a three-phase intervention program called Bridging the Divides: An Arts Intervention for Children with Incarcerated Parents. The contracted work from 2009 provided the JDPP with the experience with the population that assisted the JDPP in successfully acquiring additional funding for this extended intervention. In 2010, the JDPP received a $30,000 annual, three-year grant from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. JDPP contracted with the IMRP to evaluate the effect that this program had on its participants during its initial year of programming. That report was submitted to the JDPP during the winter of 2011.
Spring 2010 Community Engagement Project at Central Connecticut State University
During the spring of 2010, a unique collaboration took place between CCSU and students at the Dr. James H. Naylor School in Hartford. With the assistance of CCSU’s Department of Teacher Education’s Karen Riem and CCSU professors Mary Collins of the English Department and Jerry Butler of Art Education, students from both CSSU and Naylor School had the opportunity to work together on creating an artistic product. Students at the Dr. James H. Naylor School worked closely with the two classes at CCSU. Professor Butler and his art education students worked with children whose parents were incarcerated on a mural project. His class met regularly with the children to design a narrative theme of the mural based on the children’s writings. The children wrote letters, poems and short stories. Professor Collins’ Advanced Creative Nonfiction class read and edited the children’s work creating a 103-page magazine that was published as part of the CCSU literary journal, The Helix, and distributed to all public libraries in the state.
Production in the Community
The Production in the Community pilot commenced in the spring of 2009. CCSU students worked closely with Hartford at-risk youth through a filmmaking/mentorship curriculum. Structured as a 495 (Special Topics) course, this collaboration utilized CCSU’s advanced production students as trained and supervised one-on-one mentors to meet the below-listed objectives
- To alter negative youth perceptions or misconceptions about higher education through a positive educational experience.
- To engage at-risk youth in the growing field of digital film production through telling their stories.
- To expose CCSU students to the challenges and importance of community
engagement through such endeavors.
- To provide on-going, sustainable engagement, to dissuade at-risk youth from negative/destructive behavior.
- To advance filmmaking skills of our youth participants so that they might be employed by CCSU’s IMRP. This employment would allow our participants to film footage on issues relevant to IMRP initiatives and policy for documentary production.
Film shorts created through this pilot may be viewed at http://www.envisionfilms.org/PIC/PIC.html.
Since the success of the pilot was realized, the IMRP and CCSU’s Department of Communication, through Professor Jeffrey B. Teitler, formed a more long-term relationship. This partnership provides CCSU students the opportunity for longer-term community engagement, skills enhancement, mentorship and employment. Production students have produced a number of unique films demonstrating the experiences of children of incarcerated parents. The film creation process has also provided the film students with an introduction into the issues related to parental incarceration. Some of the student products may be viewed here http://www.vimeo.com/user5483766.
Media projects related to children of incarcerated parents have included the Naylor Mural Engagement Project, the Crossroads Documentary (forthcoming), the Judy Dworin Performance Project and a number of others. Students have also created several non-CIP related films, including an educational film utilizing at-risk youth for UConn School of Medicine, a film for the Hartford Friendship Camp, CT Children’s Medical Center’s Connecticut Childhood Injury Prevention Center, as well as documented and produced CCSU conferences.
Connecticut State University Community Engagement Internal Grants
During the spring of 2011, the IMRP released a grant announcement for proposals from Connecticut State University (CSU) faculty, staff and/or students to provide positive interventions for at-risk children/youth whose parent(s) and/or family members have been incarcerated. Proposals from CSU applicants had to a) include CSU students, staff, and/or faculty, as well as community partners, b) address the at-risk children/youth of incarcerated parent(s) population in Connecticut, and c) increase overall awareness of CIP-related issues. The total annual amount available under this Request for Proposals (RFP) was approximately $30,000.00. During the summer, the review team chose to award two proposals: Echoes from a Child’s Soul: Children of Incarcerated Parents Release their Voices through Art, Music, Dance, Mask Making, Movement, and Creative Writing and Urban Immersion with CT Center for Nonviolence.
Echoes from a Child’s Soul: Children of Incarcerated Parents Release their Voices through Art, Music, Dance, Mask Making, Movement, and Creative Writing
Echoes from a Child’s Soul, a community engagement project, involves pre-service teacher candidates in elementary and art education from four CCSU courses, artists, and fifth grade children from two elementary schools in New Britain Schools that have, according to the principals, a significant population of children with incarcerated parents. Mask making, movement, and mural workshops will be held during the regular school day as well as afterschool. Workshops on mask making, movement, murals, and creative writing for fifth grade children and CCSU students are designed to explore self-portraits, personal voice and sense of self. One of the goals of this project is to provide an aesthetic vehicle such as the Mask, so that children and CCSU students may investigate the concept of unmasking, to visualize and project their voices, memories, and feelings. Symbolic messages utilizing masks, dance, poetry and murals will be documented, exhibited, and presented in a final performance for the community. The final performance will be held at CCSU’s Welte Auditorium for all of the fourth and fifth grade children from the New Britain Public Schools. Additionally, this community engagement initiative prepares teacher candidates to develop competencies in cultural relevancy, interdisciplinary arts curriculum for children, aesthetic and ecojustice methodology to address social-eco justice issues on local levels.