I have been conducting more Mentoring Children of Prisoners surveys this month. I love the interaction with the children and just observing how the children live and how excited they are to meet their “Big.” Generally I do the survey the day before the Match Introduction. They always ask, “Are you my Big Sister.” It just makes me melt!!! It is amazing how children are so excited by the presence of adults…I was doing a survey for a little girl and the younger brother didn’t want to leave to pick up plastic animals for a school project because he didn’t want to miss the excitement (I felt like excitement was already there…there are 8 people who live in one side of a duplex)
It is important to me to understand the corrections world that I see Monday mornings and the everyday realities of the families and especially our “Children of Promise.” I think they can also be viewed as “Children of Transition.” When I am just talking to the children before the survey about school and what they like to do, it is incredible to find out that the majority of children have moved within the last year. And when talking to mom or grandma I often find out that they have taken a new job or might be having challenges with health. I have noticed lately that when I ask the question about gangs the children feel way too comfortable with the concept. One child wanted to clarify with me that what if it was someone he knew but not really a friend that was in a gang.
I felt a little funny after visiting the women’s prison in March because my heart ached. While the ladies were filling out the referrals one of the inmates told me her children are already a part of the program here in Nashville. I asked the names of the children because it is important to update Match Support in regards to what is going on in the family. I got the update of my life. The woman I saw before me was the mother of three siblings that always frequent kids club. The boy is so outgoing and the two little girls were very withdrawn I know that they have dealt with so much in the past when mom was incarcerated. I can’t imagine how the children are feeling!!!
I have still been doing the prison visits and following up on referrals. I scheduled seven new Amachi children the past month or so and reengaged three Amachi children. I am hoping for more referrals this next month. Many of the referrals I have been sending to other parts of Tennessee and even Arizona.
I have immensely enjoyed the opportunity in the last two weeks to visit universities and let them know about the Vista opening for August as well as working with community partners to make sure they are aware of the Amachi program. I felt really positive about a mobile nursing unit that I talked with as well. More outreach to come. Amachi Kids Club is this weekend and there will be a teen group that is doing a skit about bullying. “A diverse group of teenage actors from various Nashville high schools, The PG-13 Players (PG stands for Peer Guidance) probe hot-button issues facing young people today. Post-performance talkback sessions, in which the performers stay in character and reconcile their actions,=provide the opportunity for discussion and reflection.” (Nashville Scene)