Celebrating the Holidays Behind Bars: Ideas for Connecting with Justice-Involved Youth

The title of this post is the title of a post by our friends at Reclaiming Futures that features the Holiday Event Toolkit from the Campaign for Youth Justice.  The Toolkit provides a comprehensive 25 page step-by-step guide for how to organize holiday projects, care packages, letters, and events for incarcerated youth.

Ideas for projects include the following:

  • A movie screening of a favorite holiday film, complete with popcorn
  • A party featuring catered food and music
  • A reading of a book or poetry, followed by an opportunity for youth to write and/or share their own.  This may be combined with a gift of a journal or composition book to each youth
  • A gingerbread or sugar cookie decorating – youth can make some to eat and some to package and send to their loved ones
  • Another art or craft activity to make or make and send as a gift: ornaments, picture frames, etc.
  • Unstructured art time with a variety of paint, clay, beads, etc.
  • A visit by a legislator, celebrity, or another special guest
  • A makeover for female inmates done by a Mary Kay salesperson
  • A magic show or hypnotist
  • A motivational speaker
  • A concert by local musicians
  • Karaoke
  • Games tournament such as jeopardy/trivia, Pictionary, chess, or bingo

The Toolkit contains everything from sample letters soliciting co-sponsors to letters of proposal to detention facilities to thank you notes to sponsors and others.  It includes press advisories, sample messages for holiday cards, and even sample invitations with graphics.

More than anything else, a review of the Toolkit will inspire you and your family or colleagues to reach out to one of the most vulnerable populations in our communities — kids who are spending the holiday season behind bars — often far from family and feeling alone and forgotten.

Do you have other ideas for connecting with incarcerated youth during the holiday season?  What has worked for you?  What would you suggest to others?  Please share in the comments.

Photo of Alameda County detention facility © Richard Ross http://www.juvenile-in-justice.com/

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About Tamar Birckhead

School of Law
This entry was posted in Community Outreach, Conditions of Confinement, Juveniles, Organizations. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Celebrating the Holidays Behind Bars: Ideas for Connecting with Justice-Involved Youth

  1. Pingback: Celebrating the Holidays Behind Bars: Ideas for Connecting with Justice-Involved Youth | up2-21 | Scoop.it

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