The board of Project Armchair, Missouri River Correctional Center (MRCC) Deputy Warden Shannon Davison, the Children of Incarcerated Parents Initiative, and three residents from the MRCC teamed up to create a cozy reading and play space in MRCC’s visiting room for dads and their children to share a book and create positive memories. Project Armchair donated books for the children to read with their fathers and to take home, MRCC provided the visiting bench and book shelves, and the three residents at MRCC put their artistic talent to work and created paintings using a Monsters, Inc. theme.
A literature review compiled by the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DOCR) and Children of Incarcerated Parents (Smith, 2018) recommends ways to alleviate some of the effects of separation include reducing the trauma and stigma of having an incarcerated parent, improving communication between the parent and child(ren), and making visits to the prison more child friendly. MRCC team members are also considering other ways to make visitations between incarcerated fathers and their children less intimidating and more welcoming. “Project Armchair applauds these efforts,” said Vonda Dahl, President of Project Armchair.
In another project, Deputy Warden Davison, along with residents from MRCC, are collaborating with Jerri Carlson, a board member of Project Armchair and interim principal at Red Trail Elementary, and Rebecca Deierling, DOCR principal, will provide MRCC residents the opportunity to give back to the youth by painting a vision of the school Ranger badge and outdoor Ranger station.
“We are excited to work with Project Armchair and Red Trail Elementary, as both opportunities allow MRCC residents to create and showcase their artwork to our local youth using a healthy form of self-expression in a very meaningful way,” said Davison.
The goal of Project Armchair is to give children in crisis a short reprieve from that crisis through the magic of a good book. Volunteers are educators who understand the importance of literacy.