Happy Heart Health Month!

February is American Heart Month, which is meant to bring awareness to heart disease, the leading cause of death.

Our Children’s Program Coordinators will complete heart healthy activities with children (and their caregivers!) at the Visitor Centers. If you’d like to see these activities plus many more, check out the education resource section of heart.org.

The American Heart Association website, http://www.heart.org, has information and resources for people of all ages. We encourage you to check it out and share with others.

Remember: 

Research shows that physical and emotional activities directly correlate. When you exercise, endorphins are released and you feel better emotionally. The opposite is also true! When you have a rough day, your body feels tired and broken down. Both affect heart health; for the most part, happier, more physically active people live longer!

How California is cracking down on contraband in state prisons

Contraband: (n)  1. illegal or prohibited traffic in goods (smuggling) 2. goods or merchandise whose importation, exportation, or possession is forbidden

$5000. 6 months. A misdemeanor/felony charge. Three of the more obvious consequences for those who choose to bring contraband into a correctional facility. But what about the chain reaction effects…Children who watch their caregiver’s arrest, more familial impact, denial of future visits. 

If you’ve visited a correctional facility, you’ve likely seen the large signs at the gate entrance about illegal items. Bringing contraband to a correctional facility is an illegal activity with many consequences to the person who brings it, the inmate who is caught with it, and other staff, inmates, and visitors, including children who are with the person bringing in the contraband.

For the person who bring contraband in: A fine, jail time, loss of future visits, and a misdemeanor/felony charge

For inmates caught with contraband: Days lost of good time credit and loss of privileges

For other inmates, officers, visitors, and children: Disruption of their visit, the trauma of seeing their caregiver arrested, and safety concerns. Children may be taken into CPS custody if their caregivers are arrested.

In Fall 2011, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 26 (SB26), which makes it a misdemeanor to those try to take a cell phone into a prison or own an unauthorized cell phone in prison.

If you want more information about SB 26 and illegal cell phone usage in prison, check out the video above or click here. If you would like more information on receiving phone calls from inmates, check out the bilingual information sheets here.

The Visiting a Friend or Loved One in Prison guide lists all items allowed in the visiting room along with other visiting regulations.  Visitor Centers can help clarify any questions you have about approved items. If you would like to send money to an inmate, you can find more information here. Information on approved inmate package vendors can be found here.

Lastly, if you feel threatened or intimidated by the person you visit to bring contraband, resources are available here or by calling 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Unapproved items…Contraband…are a safety and security risk. Let’s keep our loved ones inside and out of prison safe by keeping unapproved items out.

Holiday Wish 2011…A Heartwarming Success!

Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.

-Mother Teresa

In mid December, we had the pleasure of hosting over 60 children and their caregivers in a fun filled day at the Friends and Family Neighborhood Center. In addition to picking up their gifts, families were invited to snap a picture together, take part in activities, and share cookies and cider with each other.

Check out some of the photos from the event!

Friends Outside and all of the children sponsored this season give our deepest thanks and gratitude to everyone who helped make this season brighter for those impacted by incarceration. Thanks to our sponsors, over 60 children in our community received not only what money bought them but a wonderful memory to hold on to and the knowledge they are not alone and deserve more out of life.

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

Materials:

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

Method:

  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

Result:

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)

Materials:

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

Method:

  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

Result:

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

Materials:

  1. None

Method:

  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.”

Result:

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!