Toy Runs at SQ and DVI!

Toy Run at DVIActivities at San Quentin Visitor Center
PD Gwen with toy run founder, Brett Hatt

Motorcycles lined up outside the San Quentin and DVI Visitor Centers to bring some cheer to our youngest visitors!

Black Sheep of Livermore rode in to DVI late November and brought many toys for visitors. Hatt’s Motorcycles came to visit San Quentin last weekend with two VW buses filled with goodies!

We want to thank everyone who donated and participated to make the events a success!


Children’s Activities: November 2011

Each month, we send new ideas and activities to the Children’s Program Coordinators at each of the Visitor Centers. These activities address the unique needs of children impacted by incarceration and aim to give children ways to process emotions.

Preschoolers: Exploring My Pyramid for Kids

 Purpose: To expose children to healthy habits, including a balanced diet and exercise


  1. My Pyramid sheet
  2. Butcher or Construction Paper in various colors
  3. Magazines
  4. Glue


  1. Create a wall sized My Pyramid. Be sure to proportion and label each section
  2. Converse with children about My Pyramid. Ask them what they see!
    1. What types of food go with each group?
    2. What are your favorite foods?
    3. What do the stairs represent?
    4. Why are some portions of My Pyramid larger than others? (MATH CONCEPT!)
  3. Give magazines to children to cut out food items and types of exercise (on-going project…does not have to be completed in one day)
  4. Give children their own My Pyramid to take with them

***Note: if a wall sized My Pyramid is not possible, refer to empty My Pyramid sheet


Preschoolers love bright colors and group participation. With an on-going project, they can see what their peers before them have charted. They gain an understanding about healthy body habits such as a balanced diet and exercise.

Aside from the nutrition aspect, this is an opportunity for math skills. They will analyze information presented on a chart, conceptualize a complex item as a whole and then as parts, understand symbols, and use thinking skills to categorize.

Teens: Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic

Purpose: To create an Emergency Plan in case of Zombie Apocalypse (or a hurricane, earthquake, etc)


  1. Zombie Preparedness Comic
  2. Emergency Preparedness Checklist
  3. Pencils/Pens


  1. Refer teens to the Zombie Pandemic Comic
  2. Ask teens what their household’s Emergency Plan is
    1. If they have one, help them analyze it against the FEMA Checklist
  3. Give them an Emergency Preparedness Checklist sheet


The CDC created this campaign to raise awareness through a popular concept. The point is that ANY sort of emergency situation could arise and each household should have a plan on hand (just as each VC does). The goal is for a family to create and practice the plan together.

All Ages: Listening to Communicate and Barriers to Communication

Purpose: To discuss active listening techniques such as Open vs Closed Ended Questions and Paraphrasing


  1. None


  1. Ask children:
    1. How do you know someone is listening to you?
    2. How does it make you feel when you feel listened to?
    3. How do you know when someone isn’t listening to you?
    4. How does it make you feel when you aren’t listened to?
  2. For younger children, try:
    1. Put on Your Listening Ears – Say dramatically “I have something important to tell you. Can anyone tell me what type of ears we need to wear in the museum?” When the  preschooler says “Listening ears” say “OK, let’s put on our listening ears. I think that mine are in my shoe (or some other funny place).” Then dramatically pretend to pull them out of your shoe and put them on. Have the preschooler find their listening ears and pretend to put them on. You can also do this with walking feet or inside voice. The trick is to be as silly and dramatic as possible. If your child forgets their manners during the situation whisper to them “You must have put your listening ears back in your belly button when I wasn’t looking. Let’s find them again and put them back on.”


Children will recognize active listening skills, which will improve communication skills with others.

Celebrate Dia de Los Muertos with Us!

Dia de Los Muertos, Day of the Dead, is a Mexican celebration which originated with the Aztecs over 2,500 years ago. Here in the US, death is often a somber subject whereas in other cultures, death is a more accepted part of life; people mourn while remembering family and friends who have departed.

Originally, Dia de Los Muertos was a month long celebration which was reshaped during the Spanish invasion. More recently, people celebrate with ofrendas, offerings of bread, trinkets, sugar skulls, and orange marigolds (referred to as the “flower of the dead”), wear sugar skull or other face masks, and showcase the culture in honor of their loved ones.

This year, we join with Fathers and Families of San Joaquin to celebrate Dia de Los Muertos in a community wide healing and cultural ceremony. Dancers and storytellers will provide entertainment and food is provided! For more information, see this post.

If you are unable to make it and want to celebrate your own Dia de Los Muertos, check out this link for children’s activities and more!

Dia De Los Muertos: A Community Healing and Cultural Ceremony

Friends Outside joins Fathers & Families Coalition of San Joaquin County in support of community healing and cultural recognition at the Dia De Los Muertos ceremony November 2nd, 2011.

We invite you to this important event as community partners and members:

• Honor and recognize those who have lost their lives to violence.
• Create a space for healing and recovery from violence.
• Take a community wide stand for peace.

The ceremony will begin with a blessing at 4:00 PM at the Catholic Cemetery located on 719 Harding Way Stockton, CA 95205.

A procession will follow promptly at 5PM to Oak Park for a silent candlelight vigil and creation of a community alter. There will be free food, Cultural Dancers, Native American Drummers, Storytellers and a community healing activity.  Please feel free to disseminate widely!

For additional information please call Samuel Nuñez at (209) 941-0701 or by email at

October’s Activities!

Each month, we send new ideas and activities to the Children’s Program Coordinators at each of the Visitor Centers. These activities address the unique needs of children impacted by incarceration and aim to give children ways to process emotions.

Toddlers: Emotion Recognition

 Purpose: Engage parents and toddlers in recognizing and responding to expressions

MaterialsEmotion Flashcards


  1. Create a set of flashcards for each family (so they can take them home)
  2. Parents show the cards to the toddler and ask:
    1. Can you show me a “happy” face?
    2. Which face do you like best?
    3. How are you feeling right now?


One of the main toddler goals is to recognize and appropriately communicate/express emotions. Toddlers are just learning to express themselves with words and still use many facial expressions to communicate their feelings and needs. Flashcards and parental engagement can assist them in learning the words that go with emotions and expressions.

Tweens: Cyberbullying: Who, Me? Why Should I Care


  • Analyze online behaviors that could be considered cyberbullying.
  • Generate multiple solutions and actions that bystanders can take to improve a cyberbullying situation.
  • Practice peer mentoring for cyberbullying prevention.


  1. Worksheets
  2. Writing Materials
  3. Construction Paper


Part 1: What’s the Problem?

  • Distribute the activity sheets. Have participants read the scenario about Kevin, José, and the video-sharing Web site.
  • Have participants write their answers to the two questions under What’s the Problem? Look for responses that indicate students’ understanding that both events are embarrassing, but that embarrassing someone in school exposes him to an immediate peer group, while embarrassing him on a World Wide Web site exposes him to ridicule by the entire school plus hundreds of millions of strangers.
  • Have participants tell their own stories without using actual names.
    • Ask: Have you ever witnessed kids posting or sending photos or videos in order to embarrass someone? What happened? Why?

Part 2: Think About It

  • Have participants read the Think About It section on the activity sheets. Point out that sometimes when people believe they cannot be seen or found out, they do things that they would never do in a face-to-face situation.
    • Ask: Who is doing the cyberbullying in this story? Is it only José? What about the boys in school who helped him upload the video to the Web site? What about the people who posted nasty comments? What about the people who viewed the video? Encourage students to decide for themselves and support their reasoning.
  • Have participants use drawing paper and markers to create a visual map showing all the players in this event. Participants may choose to show a labeled web, use concentric circles, or draw something more representational. Allow participants to share their maps with their parents and others.

Part 3: Find Solutions

  • Have participants discuss their solutions. Look for solutions that show empathy for Kevin and discuss the rights and responsibilities of being citizens of a worldwide community.
  • Make sure participants understand that those people who posted cruel comments were just as guilty of being bullies as the boys who originally uploaded the video were.
  • Discuss with participants how trusted adults could help, including asking a guidance counselor to talk to Kevin, a technology teacher to investigate whether it would be possible to remove the video from the site, and a school principal to try to enforce school bullying rules.
  • Have participants add to their concept map drawings, clearly labeling their proposed solutions.


Tweens learn about communication and collaboration, to interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts or others employing a variety of digital environments and media. They learn to communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats.

Tweens also take digital citizenship, that is: advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology. They also exhibit leadership for digital citizenship.

All Ages: Body Beautiful

Purpose: For youth to identify and share positive traits they possess


  1. Body Template
  2. Markers/pens/crayons
  3. Scissors


  1. Give each participant a body template
  2. Encourage them to label each part of their body with a positive thing they can do
    1. Arms: Give Hugs
    2. Brain: Helps with Homework
    3. Legs: Runs Quickly
    4. Heart: Caring friend
  3. Allow them to share with their family and others


In a time when body issues are on the rise, even the youngest of children have body image issues. Children will see focus on the positive traits they and others have.



Be a Hummingbird

In this video, Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai tells the story of a hummingbird who saves a forest from being destroyed while other animals stand to the side, overwhelmed by size of the problem…

Sometimes life can seem so big and looking for that first step can be so hard to see in the midst of the big picture. Wangari Maathai tells us:

  • The current numerous development challenges that confront societies and the world at large should not overwhelm us into being negligent of our responsibilities
  • The least amongst us can be the greatest. Small development interventions can make meaningful impacts
  • Everyone needs to do the best that he or she can. A change begins with your best contribution
  • To others our initial interventions might sound crazy but in some way we will win their hearts

So be a hummingbird…Take that first step. Your contribution can change a whole life, including your own.

Take a moment to view the video…You won’t be disappointed.

Milk has an expiration date and so do your car seats

As you’ve seen lately, car seat expiration dates are quite a buzz. You might be wondering why this issue has come to the forefront suddenly, when expiration dates were a non-issue before.

Let’s set something straight…Everything has an expiration date, whether it is stamped with one or not. Fresh flowers wilt in a matter of days and pictures yellow over the years; even Twinkies only have a shelf life of 25 days! The point being, things change and erode over time.

I remember a time when I was 8 and I learned a hard lesson: don’t leave your MC Hammer Can’t Touch This tape in the car during the month of June. Why? Because it warped and cracked. Think about car seats; they are made completely of plastic and fabric, two things that break down in the UV rays.

Not only can the plastic become so brittle that it shatters and the Styrofoam so degraded that it doesn’t protect upon impact, but best practice and regulations change frequently, meaning that seat may become obsolete.

Wondering what the expiration of your seat it? Expiration and/or manufacture dates can be found on the bottom of the seat or in the owner’s manual. If you can’t find an expiration date, check for a manufacture date. Most car seats have a maximum life of 5 years, though calling the manufacturer is the best way to find out what their schedule is. All-in-one car seats can be a danger here, as children should be in boosters more than 5 years. Keep that in mind the next time you look at convertible car seats.

It’s also important to replace seats after an impact. Seats can become damaged during an accident due to force. California law requires insurance companies to replace seats that have been in accidents, regardless of age of the seat.

Hanging Out with the Community

Last week, we had the chance to meet and greet with the local Stockton community at the Industrial and Technology BBQ. This annual event, hosted by the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce, is a chance for local agencies and business owners to mingle.

Thank you to the Chamber of Commerce and the University Plaza Waterfront Hotel for this wonderful event!

September Children’s Activities

Each month, we send new ideas and activities to the Children’s Program Coordinators at each of the Visitor Centers. These activities address the unique needs of children impacted by incarceration and aim to give children ways to process emotions.

For Infants: Magic Mirror

Purpose: Engage parents in social emotional development of their infants

Materials: Mirror (preferably hand held)


  1. The caregiver holds the mirror in front of the infant’s face so they can see themselves
  2. While the baby gazes into the mirror, the caregiver can say things such as:
    1. Who is that!
    2. Look at you smiling; you must be happy!
    3. You have brown eyes
  3. The caregiver can also hold them mirror so both baby and themselves are visible and talk about family, etc


Engaging infants in talk about themselves and others not only increases communication skills (such as responding to verbal cues, identifying a home language, and the act of communicating through words and actions) but helps them learn about themselves (feeling valued and attached to others and being competent and proud), their feelings (communicating through gestures, sounds, and words in an appropriate manner), and about others (developing trust and interest and care and cooperation with others).

Parents also stand to gain more understanding about how their infant communicates and confidence in the emotional growth of their child.

For Middle Childhood: Extra! Extra! Read All About Me…

Purpose: Children will identify and document memories (stories) about important people/times in their lives


  1. Newspaper Template
  2. Writing Materials


  1. Caregiver guides child through creating a Newspaper with a name and articles (with titles and/or pictures) about special people or times in their lives such as:
    1. Spotlight: Child’s Name
    2. Local Dad Wins Best BBQ Award
    3. Caution: Monster Little Sister on the Loose
  2. Newspaper can be filled with pictures and captions if full paragraphs are difficult


Child will have a piece of work caregivers can identify with and talk to their child about (source of pride).

This activity can be completed as a group or alone!

For All Ages: Feelings Collage

Purpose: Children will identify various emotional cues in other people


  1. Paper
  2. Glue
  3. Scissors
  4. Newspapers/Magazines


  1. Children look through magazines for pictures of people
  2. Cut out pictures and clue on paper
  3. Caregiver (and other children) dialogue with each other about what the person in the picture is expressing
    1. What about their facial features tells you how they are feeling?
    2. How does it make you feel when people smile at you?


Children learn to recognize visual cues of emotion in people. Sharing and talking about the pictures provides additional insight from others.

We know the key to learning is to engage caregivers in their child’s development. When caregivers are in the center with their children, we invite them to join in the activities. Please share these activities with anyone who may benefit from them!

Friends Outside Seeks Helps for Kids this Holiday Season

Childhood should be a time of fun, warmth, security, exploring, learning and discovery.

Children with an incarcerated parent may experience stress, anxiety, and fear.  Their lives have been disrupted; many feel as if they do not live “normal” lives. For some children this will be the first holiday season without their parent; for some it will be one in a long series of lonely holidays.

Friends Outside knows we cannot fix all issues related to having an incarcerated parent but at the very least, we can brighten the holidays for a few lonely children.

In 2010, our sponsors brightened the holiday season for over 100 children. The Holiday Wish Program offers organizations and individuals an opportunity to bring some “normalcy” to a child’s life during the holidays. We nurture, support, bring joy, and give hope to children of incarcerated parents by providing gifts and the knowledge that someone cares.

If you or your organization are interested in sponsoring a family and brightening the holidays with food and gifts, please contact Maria T. Rocero at 209-955-0701 or for more information or complete the Sponsor Form and return via mail, email, or fax.