The Edmond Sun

Local News

December 23, 2013

‘Messages Project’ to aid families

OKLA. CITY — The Messages Project OK is aiding families torn apart by a parent’s mistakes:

“I’ve been in prison 18 years. I’ve had no relationship with my children. With the Messages Project, I’ve started a relationship with my children and grandchildren. Our children are the innocent ones and they need to know that. Thank you for the bridge these videos made in restoring a father to his children and a grandpa to his grandchildren.”

A grandmother-caregiver stated after her granddaughter’s mother was arrested in front of her at a retail store she had nightmares. Now age 4 she was excited, laughing when she saw her mother on TV: “All in smiles, she says, ‘I love you mama’ to the TV.”

These parents are two of 26,885 men and women incarcerated in a prison as of Oct. 31, according to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

Several weeks ago, the father was filmed by The Messages Project OK, a nonprofit program of Redeeming the Family headed by Cheri Fuller. The program seeks to mitigate the damage in the lives of children of incarcerated parents.

According to the Justice Department, the link between academic failure and delinquency, violence and crime is welded to reading failure. Minus parental support, intervention, literacy and prevention programs, children of incarcerated parents go to prison at a 5-6 times higher rate than their peers.

Fuller, a mother, author and a former teacher, said the generational cycle of incarceration defeats any chance of these young people to develop their full potential, contribute to society or lead productive lives.

A child’s reading skills are improved because reading with a parent, even via video, has a positive impact on literacy, Fuller said. Assured they are loved, sadness, depression, anxiety and anger are reduced, and interest in reading increases, Fuller said.

“When children experience less depression, anxiety and turmoil, their trauma decreases so they can focus on learning, and their positive outcomes improve,” Fuller said.

The Messages Project OK, based on a national award-winning model, is supported by more than 30 volunteers. Fuller schedules dates for teams to visit about 7-8 prisons between early October and early December.

On the day of the visit, 6-9 team members set up a table with books for all ages of kids and teens. Inmates receive guidelines on how to make a positive message and how to read a book interactively on camera. They go in one of two rooms where 50-65 messages are filmed in a day. Their messages and books are sent to their children.

In 2.5 years, more than 2,700 children have received DVDs and books from the Messages Project OK, Fuller said.

Volunteers include videographer Sheron Davis who got to know Fuller, a fellow member of the First Presbyterian Church of Edmond.

“She shared about the heartbreak of the mothers there who had caused their children to be without their care,” Davis said. “Being a mom and a gandmom, I was touched by the devastation to the whole family.”

Davis said inmates express deep gratitude to The Messages Project OK for providing a way for them to be in touch with their children, which may include sending a book from them as a gift. Other impacts are more widely felt.

“Breaking the cycle of incarceration is crucial to our communities,” Davis said. “Innocent children need to be reassured they are loved and they are not the reason their parent got in trouble. It’s amazing the way this program heals little hearts and brings peace into their lives.”

Fuller said through her work with The Messages Project OK she has learned roughly half of students in one metro area school have a parent in prison. That percentage is as high as 75 percent in some other schools in the state.

Oklahoma Department of Corrections spokesman Jerry Massie said a number of similar organizations help incarcerated parents keep in touch with their children, who often aren’t able to visit for a variety of reasons.

“We certainly appreciate it,” Massie said.

Ambitions for the project include reaching more at-risk children by developing a Tulsa team to partner with other nonprofits and to expand into county jails, Fuller said.

The organization is grateful to the foundations and individuals who have supported the project, helping children of incarcerated parents receive the priceless gifts of videos and books from their moms and dads at Christmas, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, Fuller said.

For more information about The Messages Project OK, visit redeemingthefamily.org.

marks@edmondsun.com | 341-2121, ext. 108

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Boston 1 Arcadia man, 80, prepares for 111th marathon

    A year ago, Arcadia resident Tom Briggs was well into the Boston Marathon course when he heard runners nearby talking about an incident up ahead.

    April 19, 2014 3 Photos

  • Anne Josette Hill Police seek teen last seen in Edmond-north OKC area

    The family of a missing teenage girl made a plea to the public Friday to help them find the Casady honors student.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • 4-19 Calendar

    For information about Edmond senior programs, stop by and pick up a monthly calendar, check out the website at edmondseniorcenter.com or call 216-7600. Lunch is served at 11:30 a.m. and reservations are needed a day in advance by 11 a.m. For lunch reservations, call 330-6293 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    April 19, 2014

  • UCO plans Earth Day Fair

    The University of Central Oklahoma invites the community to celebrate sustainability with its Earth Day Fair from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 22 in locations throughout Central’s campus.
    The fair kicks off at 10 a.m. around Broncho Lake with exhibitions from local businesses, state agencies and student organizations. Visitors will have the opportunity to learn about its environmental mission and message.

    April 19, 2014

  • UCO School of Music closes semester with concert series

    The University of Central Oklahoma School of Music will wrap up its instrumental performance season with three concerts featuring Central students April 29 through May 1 at Mitchell Hall Theater located on the UCO campus.    

    April 19, 2014

  • Fine Arts 1 Auction benefits Fine Arts Institute

    The Spring Sampler dinner and auction event April 12 at Oak Tree Country Club benefitted the Fine Arts Institute of Edmond.

    April 18, 2014 4 Photos

  • Kaiser joins Thunder ownership group

    Tulsa businessman George B. Kaiser has been approved by the NBA Board of Governors as a new partner in The Professional Basketball Club LLC, which owns the Oklahoma City Thunder. Thunder Chairman and CEO Clayton I. Bennett made the announcement Friday. Kaiser is purchasing the ownership interest of Tom L. Ward.
    “We are honored to welcome George Kaiser as a member of the ownership group of the Oklahoma City Thunder,” Bennett said. “George is a well-respected and important Oklahoma business leader, as well as one of the state and nation’s top philanthropists. His commitment to successful business and community leadership is in true alignment with that of the Thunder.
    “I also appreciate the commitment and leadership provided by Tom Ward as a member of our ownership group from the beginning,” Bennett added.

    April 18, 2014

  • Literally, books come to life for club

    When some of the women at Touchmark at Coffee Creek got together to form a book club, they didn’t know it would be so much fun and become such an important part of their lives.
    The group of about a dozen residents gets together monthly to not only discuss the assigned novel, memoir or classic, but also to immerse themselves in the setting and culture of the book. There is no limit to their creativity.

    April 18, 2014

  • pink.jpg Local children win Edmond Sun Easter coloring contest

    Two local children were named winners of The Edmond Sun’s Easter coloring contest. At left, Madsion Porter, 4, daughter of Tracy Porter, won a princess Easter basket, which included a tiara, tea set, stuffed bunny rabbit and chocolate rabbit. At right, BriAnna Harbaugh, 9, daughter of Leslie Haubaugh, won a Hello Kitty Easter basket, containing art supplies, a Hello Kitty stuffed animal and a chocolate bunny.  The families also received a three-month subscription to The Edmond Sun. For your own subscription to The Edmond Sun, visit edmondsun.com, call 341-2121, or visit 123 S. Broadway.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • jc_HarveySparks.jpg Pastor seeks congressional seat

    Working in the Congressional 1st District office of Congressman Jim Bridenstine was an eye opener for Harvey Sparks, he said. His analytical exposure to Congress has sparked his drive to run for the Congressional 5th District of Oklahoma, said Sparks, R-Oklahoma City.
    Sparks has been a pastor for the majority of his professional life. Sixteen months ago, he was asked by 1st District Congressman Jim Bridenstine to come work in his Washington, D.C., office. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three daughters and a son, ages 10-3.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
NDN Video
Jabari Parker's Top 5 Plays From Duke Career Kourtney Kardashian Is a Bikini Babe More Manpower Than Ever Expected At 4/20 Rally Debunk'd: Miley Cyrus AIDS, Cheeseburgers Cause Cancer, Military Warning Bill Previewing the NBA playoffs Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite My name is Cocaine Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Lohan Gets Candid About Her Sex List The 2014 New York Auto Show Meet Johnny Manziel's New Girlfriend Chelsea Clinton Announces Pregnancy Funny: Celebrating Easter with Martha Stewart and Friends Man Accuses 'X-Men' Director Bryan Singer of Sexually Abusing Him As a Teenager Man hit with $525 federal fine after he doesn't pay for soda refill Lea Michele & Naya Rivera Feuding? Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft Singing Nun Belts Out Cyndi Lauper New West, Texas Explosion Video Swim Daily, Throwback Thursday
Poll

Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

Agree
Disagree
Undecided
     View Results