In the News

Historic District Lifestyle, August 2019 Issue

Nov 20, 2019

Cheri Fuller

Ok Messages Project

The Oklahoma Messages Project Aims to maintain a positive connection between incarcerated parents and their children. Through this multi-media literacy program, families can share a small part of a parent-child routine through reading.

What was the driving force behind your decision to get involved?

Truly, seeing the need of the children was the driving force. While I was teaching a relational parenting class I created at the largest women’s max/medium prison in OK to help the mothers rebuild a connection with their children, I discovered that the majority of moms never see their children. This is heartbreaking to the moms but far more so to the children whose lives are shattered and who are sent to relatives in another town. To the kids, it’s as traumatic as the death of that parent.

So a few compassionate people and I formed a nonprofit, found a national model that we brought to Oklahoma and launched the OK Messages Project, a literacy and prevention program. We train volunteer teams who go with staff into prisons before Christmas, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. We coach and film parents reading to their kids and sharing a positive but vital message, like, “This is not your fault. Mommy is safe, and I miss you, and love you! I have your picture by my bed. I’m so proud of you…” We send the DVDs and books to the children, who read along with their parents every day. Having a video they can play whenever they miss mom or dad makes a significant impact on the kids’ lives. It decreases kids’ nightmares, worry (many fear mom is in a dog cage or beaten up) and sadness – and most of all, gives them hope and a sense of being loved and not forgotten.