MCCBD’s mission is, and will always be, to get diversity children’s books into the hands of young readers. It is especially important for kids to be able to “see themselves” in the pages of a book, but family reading time is also a critical piece of this literacy puzzle.
MCCBD has had the honor of working with several important non-profits who share a similar vision and one such organization is the Oklahoma Messages Project. Thanks to the outreach of OK Messages Project Director, Cheri Fuller, MCCBD donated a big box of multicultural books for children and their incarcerated parents to create memories with.
Healthy parental connections are essential to a child’s development. Children are the silent victims of their parent’s crime through the trauma and loss of the environment that has been their life. When a child’s parent is incarcerated and a healthy connection is maintained, it reduces the child’s risk for social, emotional, and educational problems. For the incarcerated parent, family connection decreases the likelihood of recidivism. Maintaining and enhancing the bond between the child and the incarcerated parent through video messages and other interactive media are the focal points of The Messages Project.
The Messages Project has recorded more than 10,000 video messages, which are sent to the children along with a book the parent has read to them. The Moms and Dads also write poems, sing songs, pray, and most importantly, send love to their children and families.
Because of this program, many children will get to read along with bedtime stories with their parents each night. Seeing and hearing their parents say, “I love you. I’m proud of you. This isn’t your fault. I’m safe” reduces their anxiety and sadness, boosts the self-esteem of 78% of the kids participating; 88% have a better bond with their parents in prison and caregivers. For 72% of children, their reading improves. Like Jacie, (9), who last March was doing poorly in reading. When she got her book Frozen and her video of dad reading it, she read along every night before bedtime. In November, Jacie was awarded “Best Reader in the School” for her elementary school. Reading along with parents has a powerful impact on students’ reading, even via video.
Our nonprofit brought the national model of the Messages Project (www.themessagesproject.org) from Virginia in 2011 and launched it in Oklahoma in May of that year.
In five years, we’ve served over 5,500 children in our state. Last year, we had 44 days of filming at 18 prisons, and sent books and DVDs to 1145 kids. Please visit okmessages.org to donate, to find out more, and to see our video of the children on the Home Page.