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Survey results show Oklahoma Messages Program DVDs may help fight the cycle of incarceration

Nonprofit Redeeming the Family in Oklahoma connects children with incarcerated parents through DVDs, other events
By Paighten Harkins, Staff Writer Modified: August 2, 2014 at 7:17 pm •  Published: August 4, 2014

When parents are incarcerated, sometimes these videos are they only way they can communicate with their children, aside from letters, because of financial restraints or distance, Fuller said.

Of the children who lived with their mother before her incarceration, 55 percent have never visited their mother while she was in prison, according to the 2012 annual report. About 40 percent haven’t spoken with their mother by telephone while she’s been in prison.

Since the Oklahoma Messages Program started almost four years ago, the group has sent DVDs to more than 3,000 children. Last year, the group sent DVDs to 823 children, Fuller said.

“To the kids, this is time spent with the parent,” Fuller said.

The group sends DVDs to children three times a year — Christmas, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, Fuller said.

In October, the group will be changing its approach to coincide with the release of a new children’s book, “Marvin’s Shining Star,” Fuller said. The book tells the story of Marvin, who is in prison. His life is changed after he trains a black Labrador named Star through a prison program.

Each parent who sends home a DVD for Christmas will read the book, and the children will receive a gift-wrapped copy of the book and a stuffed black lab, Fuller said.

In addition to the videos, Redeeming the Family recently partnered with Oklahoma City University professors Joe Meinhart and Nicole Warenheim, as well as Bob Spinks, head of OCU’s master’s program in nonprofit leadership, to put on an Outdoor Adventure Day for children who are affected by incarceration.

The event was at John Nichols Scout Ranch and included a water gun fight, inflatables and a cookout to distract the children from troubles they may have because their parents are incarcerated.

“It’s just this special day for them to get to be out,” Fuller said.

At a glance

How to help

To donate, go to or send money to Redeeming the Family, The Messages Project, P.O. Box 8073, Edmond, OK 73083.

Making a difference

After a parent was arrested or incarcerated:

81 percent of children experienced moderate to huge increases in sadness or depression.

84 percent of children experienced moderate to huge increases in stress or anxiety.

60 percent of children experienced moderate to huge increases in number of nightmares.

After watched a DVD from their parent:

65 percent of children had moderate to huge decreases in sadness and depression.

54 percent of children had moderate to huge improvements in anger issues or acting out.

71 percent of children were less worried about their parents.

68 percent of children moderate to huge improvements in stress and anxiety.

Source: Oklahoma Message Project

2013-14 outcome survey

Over and over, we hear children say it felt like my mother was in the room.”executive director of Redeeming the Family

Cheri Fuller,,
Cheri Fuller,executive director of Redeeming the Family


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